Linda Thomas-Greenfield Putin ‘recognized he had no victory to celebrate,’ US ambassador to UN says

But the Russian leader also gave no indication of his intention to end the war in Ukraine, she warned.

In a Biden administration official’s first reaction to Putin’s speech, Thomas-Greenfield noted to CNN that Putin did not use his remarks to announce a withdrawal from Ukraine — which would have been welcomed by states. States – signaling that Putin’s war will continue.

“There was no reason for (Putin) to declare victory or to declare a war that he has already been waging for more than two months,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

“His efforts in Ukraine were not successful,” she added. “He was unable to go to Ukraine and bring them to their knees in a matter of days and make them surrender.”

During a speech commemorating the defeat of Nazi Germany by Russia at the end of World War II, Putin reiterated his baseless accusation that the West had left him no choice but to invade Germany. ‘Ukraine. Planned VE Day air shows across Russia have been canceled, raising questions as to why.

In a separate interview on CNN’s “Connect the World” on Monday, US Ambassador to NATO Julianne Smith said Putin’s speech “wasn’t that surprising” and “completely detached from reality.” .

“It’s sad that on this day, Victory Day, he celebrates aggression and oppression at the same time,” she added.

“The conflict is not over”

Putin’s speech provided few details on how Russia plans to proceed in Ukraine. It followed days of speculation that the Russian leader would use the event to officially declare war on Ukraine or order a massive mobilization of Russian forces to continue a war that now stretches into its third month, with heavy Russian losses.

Although Putin did not announce the speculated escalation plans, Thomas-Greenfield noted that “the conflict is not over, that’s for sure.”

“He didn’t announce a withdrawal. He didn’t announce a deal with the Ukrainians,” she told CNN. “So I suspect and we all feel that this could be a long-term conflict that could go on for months more.”

Moreover, it would be too strong to say that the United States “welcomed” Putin’s remarks on Monday, Thomas-Greenfield told CNN, because the “unconscionable war against the Ukrainian people” continues.

“So what we would consider a positive sign is that Putin pulls his troops out of Ukraine and ends this unconscionable war,” she said.

Thomas-Greenfield, who was in Brussels for a major conference in support of Syria, said Moscow’s appointment of the “butcher of Syria” Alexander Dvornikov to command the Russian offensive in Ukraine is “just another example of Russian brutality, Russia’s lack of awareness of humanity, human rights abuses and atrocities they have committed and are prepared to continue committing in Ukraine .”

“It just shows the world that there are no limits, as far as the Russians are concerned, to their willingness to use any tools to bring down the Ukrainian people,” she told CNN.

The fact that Dvornikov oversaw Russian forces accused of committing atrocities in Syria and still remains in power to command forces accused of committing war crimes in Ukraine “is certainly something the world needs to address to move forward.” forward,” admitted Thomas-Greenfield.

“We cannot continue to allow individuals like this individual to commit these acts and they can absolutely expect to be held accountable,” she said, noting that the United States was working with Ukraine, the International Criminal Court and the International Court. of Justice “to ensure that those responsible are held accountable”.

“The behavior has changed considerably”

Thomas-Greenfield is among the Biden administration officials who had the most interaction with Russian officials in the aftermath of the war given their seat on the UN Security Council.

She told CNN that the behavior of the Russian diplomats she works with in New York has “absolutely” changed since Russia started its war in Ukraine, and that they seem “uncomfortable” in “the way they behave. , The behaviour”.

She says she sees her Russian counterpart appear less frequently at the UN Security Council than before the war – now he often sends his deputy or his experts in his place.

“From day one, February 24, when we sat in an emergency meeting of the Security Council and the Russians were president of the Security Council, we saw their behavior change significantly in the council,” Thomas-Greenfield said, adding that she believes the Russians at the meeting “were taken by surprise by the attack” that evening which sparked Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Thomas-Greenfield said Russian diplomats at the United Nations “certainly read” prepared remarks.

“We know and expect when they will respond to the things we say, but I suspect everything is very well prepared for them and scripted,” she said.

Thomas-Greenfield also told CNN that his Ukrainian counterpart at the UN told him about Russians stealing grain from Ukraine, and while the United States has not confirmed the details, “there is evidence that Russia, not only attacked the farmers’ fields, they took equipment, but also that they removed the grain from the silos and transported it to Russia. ”

“I absolutely think it’s believable,” she said.

Concerns have arisen about the potential impact that the war in Ukraine will have on its role as “Europe’s breadbasket”. Multiple sources told CNN that Russian forces were stealing agricultural equipment and thousands of tons of grain from Ukrainian farmers in areas they occupied, and targeting food storage sites with artillery.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said last week that around 400,000 tons of grain had been stolen so far.

CNN’s Tim Lister and Sanyo Fylyppov contributed to this report.

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