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U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Friday there should be no question that Russia is looking to dismantle Ukraine “and dissolve it from the world map entirely.”
Speaking to the U.N. Security Council, the ambassador said the U.S. has noticed signs that Russia is preparing to try and annex all the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as the southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.
She said Moscow’s attempt to do this could include installing “illegitimate proxy officials in Russian-held areas, with the goal of holding sham referenda or decree to join Russia.”
Thomas-Greenfield said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov “has even stated that this is Russia’s war aim.”
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Lavrov had said Sunday at an Arab summit in Cairo that Moscow’s overarching mission in Ukraine is to free its people from its “unacceptable regime.”
“We will certainly help the Ukrainian people to get rid of the regime, which is absolutely anti-people and anti-historical,” Lavrov said, appearing to suggest that Russia’s goals for the war go beyond Ukraine’s industrial Donbas region in the east, which consists of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Russian deputy U.N. ambassador Dmitry Polyansky said before the Security Council on Friday that “The de-Nazification and demilitarization of Ukraine will be carried out in full.”
“There must no longer be a threat from this stage to Donbas, nor to Russia, nor to the liberated Ukrainian territories where for the first time in several years people are finally able to feel that they can live the way they want,” he said.
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Polyansky also issued a warning to Western countries supplying Ukraine with long-range artillery and MLRS rockets, saying that they were shifting “the provisional security line” further toward the west.
“And in so doing clarifying even further the aims and objectives of our special military operation,” he said.
Thomas-Greenfield also highlighted at the meeting evidence of increased atrocities caused by Russia’s war.
She said this includes the reported school and hospital bombings, the “killing of aid workers and journalists, the targeting of civilians attempting to flee, the brutal execution-style murder of those going about their daily business in Bucha,” a suburb of Kyiv.
The ambassador said there is evidence that Russian forces “have interrogated, detained forcibly, deported an estimated hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens, including children — tearing them from their homes and sending them to remote regions in the east.”
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Nearly two million Ukrainian refugees have relocated to Russia, according to both Ukrainian and Russian officials. Ukraine alleges the refugees were forced to transfer to enemy soil, which is considered a war crime. But Russia deems the journeys humanitarian evacuations of war victims who are appreciative of a new place to call home.
“The United Nations has information that officials from Russia’s presidential administration are overseeing and coordinating filtration operations,” Thomas-Greenfield told the council.
Polyansky, however, said that Ukrainians “are choosing the country that they trust.”
He claimed the heavy artillery supplied to Ukraine “will spill over into Europe” because of “the flourishing corruption among Ukraine’s political and military leadership.”
Polyansky said Western weaponry is “dragging out the agony and increasing the suffering of the Ukrainian people.”
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He told Western ambassadors, “The aims of our special military operation will be achieved either way, however much fuel you pour into the fire in the form of weapons.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.