March 20, 2014 - 09:47 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Russia and the United States exchanged threats Wednesday, March 19, at a tense UN 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, the Associated Press reports.
The meeting came as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon left for Russia and Ukraine in a bid to seek a diplomatic way out of the crisis. Ban will meet with President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials in Moscow on Thursday and travel to Kyiv on Friday for talks with Ukraine's acting president and prime minister, the UN said.
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."
The council also heard a briefing from Ivan Simonovic, assistant UN secretary-general for human rights, who expressed particular concern over the security of Tatars and other ethnic minorities in Crimea.