US accuses Russia of gaslighting with its claims of Russophobia

Russia prepares to hold rotating UN Security Council Presidency in April

A sign reads 'No Russophobia' at a pro-Russian demonstration in Frankfurt, Germany, in April 2022. Reuters
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Russia today summoned the UN Security Council over what it calls "Russophobia", in a move western powers consider to be another effort by Moscow to validate its invasion of Ukraine.

US Political Counselor John Kelley accused Russia of “gaslighting".

“Over the past year, the world has endured a parade of Russian excuses and absurd justifications for its war of choice against Ukraine," Mr Kelley said.

"We have heard Russian claims that it is not the aggressor that it is trying to stop a genocide in eastern Ukraine … that it must fight against drug addicts and satanic cults."

He said that no matter what today's “obfuscating excuses are, they cannot hide the fact Russia is “not the victim it pretends to be".

At Tuesday's meeting of the council — the only venue where Moscow regularly faces Ukraine and its western supporters — the Kremlin's top UN envoy Vasily Nebenzya asked western members of the Security Council to “spare” the Russian Federation the argument that the war in Ukraine is “Russia's fault".

“I wish to stress the fact that we convened today's meeting in order not to talk about the domestic problems of Ukraine,” he said.

Mr Nebenzya said that 'Russophobia' is “off the scales” in Ukraine and a threat to international peace.

The Russian diplomat accused Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of “unleashing” it.

To prove that he is not a Russophobe, UK Minister Counsellor Fergus Eckersley responded in Russian.

“We do not want Russia to fail as a state, as the Russian delegation sometimes claims," said Mr Eckersley.

“We want Russia to be a prosperous and stable nation — just one that does not invade and try to annex its neighbours.”

Also addressing the council was Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale University, who was invited by the UK to the meeting and said using the term Russophobia was “imperial strategy".

“Claiming to be the victim when you're when you are in fact, the aggressor, is not part of the defence. It's actually part of the crime," Prof Snyder said.

"Hate speech directed against Ukrainians is not part of the defence of the Russian Federation. It's part of the crimes that Russian citizens are committing on Ukrainian territory.

"In this sense in calling this session, the Russian state has found a new way to confess to war crimes."

He called Russia's invasion of Ukraine an “irreparable harm to Russian culture".

“The Russian war of aggression in Ukraine has killed more speakers of Russian than any other action by far," Prof Snyder said.

"There's no comparison. And of course, Russia's invasion of Ukraine has led to the mass killing of Russian citizens. Some 200,000 are dead or maimed."

The New York Times on Tuesday reported that the International Criminal Court is planning to open two war crimes cases tied to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The first case is about Russia’s alleged abduction of Ukrainian children. The second is on Russia’s “unrelentingly” attacks on civilian infrastructure.

Updated: March 14, 2023, 9:34 PM