UNITED NATIONS — Russia and the United States exchanged threats Wednesday at a tense U.N. Security Council meeting over the Ukraine crisis, with Moscow’s envoy warning that the U.S. ambassador’s “insults” are jeopardizing Moscow’s willingness to cooperate with Washington on other diplomatic matters.
It was the council’s eighth meeting in less than three weeks on Ukraine, a show of determination by Western powers to highlight Russia’s diplomatic isolation over the Crimean Peninsula — even if the council is powerless to act because of Moscow’s veto power as a permanent council member.
At the council, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin was once again alone in defending his country’s actions in Crimea.
He began his speech by celebrating the treaty signed a day earlier by Russian President Vladimir Putin declaring Crimea part of Russia, saying it honored the will of the Crimean people and complied with international law.
“Yesterday, something truly historic happened,” Churkin declared. “A historic injustice has been righted.”
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said the United States rejects “Russia’s military intervention and land grab in Crimea.”
She warned that the U.S. and its allies, who imposed sanctions on Russia two days ago, “are prepared to take additional steps if Russian aggression or Russian provocations continue.”
Power also compared Russia’s takeover of Crimea to theft. “A thief can steal property, but that does not confer the right of ownership on the thief,” she said.
The Russian ambassador shot back: “It is simply unacceptable to listen to these insults addressed to our country.”
He added, “If the delegation of the United States of America expects our cooperation in the Security Council on other issues, then Mrs. Power must understand this quite clearly.” By then, Power had left the meeting to her deputy.