Russia and US spar over global crises at UN meeting

AP News
Posted: Feb 23, 2015 4:08 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov implicitly accused the United States on Monday of violating U.N. principles by bombing Syria, occupying Iraq "under false pretenses" and manipulating a Security Council mandate to destroy and create chaos in Libya.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power implicitly criticized Russia for blocking Security Council action against the Syrian government and accused Moscow of training, arming and fighting alongside separatists who have seized Ukrainian territory.

They traded accusations during a ministerial meeting of the U.N. Security Council to assess the operation of the United Nations as it nears its 70th anniversary. The meeting was organized by China and was the first-ever chaired by a Chinese foreign minister.

Lavrov was clearly pointing at the United States without naming it when he singled out the current bombing of Syria, where the U.S. is targeting extremists from the Islamic State group, the U.S. occupation of Iraq starting in 2003, and the NATO-led uprising in Libya in 2011 strongly backed by the Obama administration.

"This is a result of attempts to dominate global affairs, to rule over all, everywhere, to use military force unilaterally to push one's own progress, one's own interests," Lavrov said.

The Russian minister also implicitly accused the U.S. of using "unsavory methods" such as mass pressure on sovereign states to promote Washington's agenda, and promoting regime change including "open support for the unconstitutional state coup in Ukraine a year ago." And he implicitly accused the U.S. of trying to turn the Security Council into a body which would "rubber stamp" its decisions.

"Unilateral actions of force" in recent months, he said, "have plunged the Middle East and northern Africa into instability and chaos, and to a large extent have created a breeding ground with which extremists thrive."

Power, pointing clearly at Russia — a close ally of Syria which has blocked council action aimed at pressuring President Bashar Assad to end the four-year conflict — decried the escalating death toll and the Syrian government siege tactics that have taken "a devastating toll on civilians, the people the U.N. Charter is supposed to protect."

She accused Russia of violating the Charter, which demands that all 193 member states respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other nations, by its support for separatists in Ukraine which has cost some 5,700 lives and displaced more than 1.7 million Ukrainians.

Instead of locking up political opponents in Syria and elsewhere, "or making ridiculous allegations in pointing fingers at foreign powers," Power said governments should respect human rights and freedoms which are the foundation for peace, security and prosperity.

Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius accused Moscow of trying to redraw Europe's borders by violence and force.

"What we are seeing in Europe today ... is Russia's military might being used in violation of the sovereign rights of states, and in pursuit of a neo-imperial ambition which has no place in the 21st century," he said.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said "antiquated thinking, such as the Cold War mentality and zero-sum games, should have long been thrown into the trash bin of history."

He called for greater international cooperation, greater democracy and the rule of law.

"No country in the world is entitled to impose its own will on others or to topple the legitimate government of other countries," Wang said.