The US envoy to the United Nations called on Beijing Thursday to encourage Russia “to do the right thing” in the Ukraine crisis — drawing a sharp response from her Chinese counterpart who accused Washington of fanning tensions.
“We would hope that the Chinese would play a role in encouraging the Russians to do the right thing,” US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield in an interview on CNN.
Fears are high in Western capitals that Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine after building up some 100,000 troops around its ex-Soviet neighbor.
Russia is rejecting those claims, but demanding sweeping security guarantees from NATO and the United States.
“The Chinese have expressed a strong concern in the Security Council for protecting the integrity of borders and sovereignty of states,” said Thomas-Greenfield.
“This is exactly what the Russians are doing – they are threatening the integrity of a border, so for China to deliver that message would be extraordinarily important,” she added.
China, the United States, and Russia are three of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, with the United Kingdom and France being the remaining two.
China’s ambassador to the UN, Zhang Jun, quickly responded to Thomas-Greenfield’s comments on Twitter.
“Our message is consistent and clear: resolve any differences through diplomacy,” he said in a tweet.
“Stop hyping up the tension,” Zhang wrote without naming anyone in particular. “Russia’s legitimate security concerns should be seriously addressed.
After a tense meeting at the end of January called by the United States, the UN Security Council is set to meet again on Ukraine next week.
Next week’s meeting was called by Russia, which wants to discuss the implementation of the Minsk Accords on Ukraine that were signed in 2015.