Ukraine Update 31 January, 2022 (Early Afternoon)

This morning’s meeting of the United Nations Security Council in New York resembled a boxing match more than a gathering of diplomats. As soon as the meeting began, Russia’s ambassador Vasily Nebenzia objected to the meeting even being held. He labeled US accusations as unfounded and claimed the Russian government had addressed and refuted them already. US warnings of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine were dismissed as theatrics and fear-mongering. The US response was more measured. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield defended the need for a Security Council meeting after a series of private discussions on the Russian military buildup between US and Russian diplomats failed to make progress. Through the course of the meeting, Thomas-Greenfield and Nebenzia traded blows as they laid out the positions of their respective governments, yet there is no real prospect of formal action being taken by the UN Security Council since Russia holds veto power.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to have a telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin today, twenty-four hours before Johnson is set to visit Ukraine. Great Britain is defuse the current crisis through both diplomacy and deterrence. Defensive weapons are already being supplied to Ukraine and London has offered to increase the number of troops and aircraft it already has deployed on NATO’s Eastern Flank. Concurrent to this offer, legislation is being prepared which will levy a wide range of economic sanctions on Russia should Moscow choose to launch an invasion of Ukraine. Johnson’s own political future remains in doubt as reports of the prime minister having thrown parties during the COVID-19 lockdown have led to a government investigation into those reports. The findings are set to be released on Tuesday.

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