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

But the Russian leader also gave no indication that he plans to end the war in Ukraine, he warned.

In the first reaction of a Biden administration official to Putin’s speech, Thomas-Greenfield told CNN that Putin did not use his comments to announce a withdrawal from Ukraine, which would have been welcomed by the United States, indicating that the Putin’s war will continue.

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

“Their efforts in Ukraine have not been successful,” he added. “He couldn’t go to the Ukraine and bring them to their knees in a few days and make them surrender.”

During a speech commemorating Russia’s defeat of Nazi Germany at the end of World War II, Putin reiterated his baseless accusation that the West left him no choice but to invade Ukraine. Air shows planned for Victory Day in Russia were cancelled, prompting 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 was “not that surprising” and “completely detached from reality.”

“It is sad that on this day, on Victory Day, it is celebrating aggression and oppression at the same time,” he added.

‘The conflict is not over’

Putin’s speech provided few details on how Russia plans to proceed in Ukraine. Days of speculation followed that the Russian leader would use the event to formally declare war on Ukraine or order a massive mobilization of Russian forces to wage a war that has now stretched 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, for sure.”

“He did not announce a withdrawal. He did not announce a deal with the Ukrainians,” he told CNN. “So I suspect and we all assess that this could be a long-term conflict that could go on for additional months.”

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

“So what we would see as a positive sign is Putin withdrawing his troops from Ukraine and ending this inconceivable war,” he said.

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

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

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

“We cannot continue to allow people like this to carry out these acts and they can definitely expect them to be held accountable,” he said, noting that the United States is working with Ukraine, the International Criminal Court and the International Court. of Justice “to ensure that those responsible are held accountable”.

‘Behavior changed significantly’

Thomas-Greenfield is among the Biden administration officials who have had the most interaction with Russia officials in the wake of the war due to his 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 behavior “.

He said he sees his Russian counterpart appearing at the UN Security Council less often than before the war; now he often sends his deputy or his experts in his place.

“From day one, February 24, when we were sitting in an emergency meeting of the Security Council and the Russians were presidents of the Security Council, we saw their behavior change significantly in the council,” Thomas-Greenfield said, and She added that she believes the Russians at the meeting “were caught off guard by the attack” that night that started Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Thomas-Greenfield said Russian diplomats at the United Nations are “certainly” “reading prepared comments.”

“We know and expect when they will respond to things we say, but I suspect it’s all very well designed and scripted for them,” he said.

Thomas-Greenfield also told CNN that his Ukrainian counterpart at the UN told him that the Russians were stealing grain from Ukraine, and while the United States has not confirmed the details, “there is some evidence that Russia has not only been attacking the fields of the farmers, they have been taking equipment, but also that they have taken the grain out of the silos and they have taken it to Russia”.

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

Concerns have been raised about the potential impact the war in Ukraine will have on its role as the “breadbasket of Europe”. Multiple sources told CNN that Russian forces are stealing farm equipment and thousands of tons of grain from Ukrainian farmers in the areas they have occupied, as well as shelling food storage sites.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said last week that some 400,000 tons of grain had been stolen to date.

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

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