America’s United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power blasted Russia today at a U.N. Security Council meeting on the Ukraine crisis. She said the assertions made by the Russian Federation are “without basis in reality” and stressed that Russia’s military intervention must stop.
Power said that the Russian military has taken over Ukrainian border posts, the ferry terminal in Kerch and has taken over or surrounded nearly all military facilities in Crimea. She said Russian ships are moving in and around Sevastopol. Today, Russian jets entered Ukrainian airspace and the country's forces have blocked mobile telephone services in some areas, Power stated. She added that independent journalists continue to report that there’s no evidence of violence against Russian or pro-Russian communities.
“Russian military action is not a human rights protection mission. It is a violation of international law and a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the independent nation of Ukraine and a breach of Russia’s Helsinki commitments and its U.N. obligations,” Power said.
She stressed that the recent government change does not pose a real threat to Russia’s interests and that there’s no evidence that the population of Crimea or eastern Ukraine are at risk under the new government. Power said Ukraine’s government has also pledged to honor all of its international commitments.
“Russian mobilization is a response to an imaginary threat,” she said.
Power said the U.S. proposes and supports immediate deployment of international observers and monitors to ensure that the people of Ukraine are protected.
She called for “direct and immediate dialogue” between Russia and Ukraine and said Russia’s military intervention is “an act of aggression” that must stop.
“Russia has every right to wish that events in Ukraine had turned out differently, but it does not have the right to express that unhappiness by using military force or by trying to convince the world community that up is down and black is white,” she said.
The Russian ambassador to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, spoke moments earlier during the meeting.
Churkin called the opposition in Ukraine “radicals” and said any action Russia takes is “perfectly legitimate” given the “extraordinary situation in Ukraine.”
He said Ukraine’s ousted president, Viktor Yanukovych, sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin asking him to use armed forces against the opposition in Ukraine.
Churkin said, “I quote the statement of the President of Ukraine, 'As the legitimately elected representative I say that the events in my place and the events in Kiev has resulted in the fact that Ukraine is on the brink of a civil war. In the country there is chaos and anarchy. The life, the security, and the rights of people particularly in the southeast part in Crimea are being threatened. So under the influence of western countries there are open acts of terror and violence. People are being persecuted for language and political reasons. So in this regard I would call on the President of Russia, Mr. Putin, asking him to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation to establish legitimacy, peace, law and order, stability, and defending the people of Ukraine.
Watch Power's remarks above and Churkin's statement below.