- Russia's UN representative Vasily Nebenzya accused Security Council members of getting "emotional" over the Ukraine crisis.
- During an emergency meeting, he pinned the blame for Russia's involvement in the Donbas region on Ukraine.
- Nebenzya said Moscow had moved troops into the region to "protect and preserve" the local population.
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Russia's Ambassador to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, admonished several countries on the UN's Security Council for getting "emotional" over the Ukraine-Russia crisis.
Nebenzya chastised the security council for "a number of very emotional statements, categorical assessments, and far-reaching conclusions."
"I would like to call upon our Western colleagues to think twice, to set emotions to one side and not to make the situation worse," he said during an emergency UN Security Council meeting held Monday evening.
Hours before, Russia had declared the two separatist regions — where Ukraine has fought Russia-backed rebels for the last eight years — as independent republics and sent troops into the areas for a "peacekeeping" operation.
Security Council members widely condemned Russia's actions.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, labelled Moscow's moves an attack on Ukraine's sovereignty.
"He calls them peacekeepers. This is nonsense. We know what they really are," she said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. She also claimed that the Russian operation would create a pretext for the "further invasion of Ukraine."
"In seeking to redraw borders by force, Russia's actions show blatant contempt for international law," the UK's Ambassador to the UN, Dame Barbara Woodward, told the Security Council. She said the UK would soon be imposing new sanctions on Russia, adding that there would be "severe economic consequences to its actions."
"Ukraine unequivocally qualifies the recent actions by the Russian Federation as a violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," said Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN Sergiy Kyslytsya. He added that while his country has the right to self-defence under the UN Charter, it is also "committed to a peaceful and diplomatic path."
Meanwhile, China's UN Ambassador Zhang Jun said every effort should be made to find a "diplomatic solution" to the Ukraine crisis and called on all parties involved to "seek reasonable solutions to address each other's concerns on the basis of equality and mutual respect."
"The current situation in Ukraine is a result of many complex factors. China always makes its own position, according to the merits of the matter itself," he said.
Nebenzya responded to the criticism of his country by pinning the blame for Moscow's ordering of troops into the separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk on Ukraine itself, citing the "militaristic plans of Kyiv" and Ukraine's "shelling and provocations" against the areas.
He said Russia's involvement in Luhansk and Donetsk — collectively known as the Donbas region — was an attempt to fulfill the "aspirations" of those living there, citing residents' desire to "use their mother tongue and to teach their children in that language."
Nebenzya also accused the Ukrainian government of adopting a "bellicose rhetoric" toward the Donbas, refusing to hold dialogues with its representatives, and conducting "military adventures" in the region — all of which he said caused Ukraine to "ultimately destroy" the Minsk agreements.
The Minsk agreements were signed in 2014 and 2015 between Russia, Ukraine, and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, with the aim of establishing peace in eastern Ukraine. The deals include terms for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of foreign forces, military equipment, and mercenaries.
The West has widely condemned Moscow's actions, and has promised heavy sanctions against Russia amid fears of a full-scale invasion. President Joe Biden has already imposed sanctions on Luhansk and Donetsk, barring US involvement in imports and exports and new investments in the regions.