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Russia Spars With EU, US at UN Meeting 06/11 06:17

   

   UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Russia sparred with the European Union and the United 
States at a U.N. meeting Thursday that highlighted the strained relations 
between Moscow, Brussels and Washington.

   Estonia, which holds the Security Council presidency this month, organized 
the meeting to focus on cooperation between the United Nations and the 
27-nation European Union, inviting its foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to 
speak about the relationship and challenges to peace and security.

   The council meeting came just ahead of this weekend's summit of the Group of 
Seven major industrialized nations -- which Russia was ousted from in 2014 -- 
and next week's first meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia's 
President Vladimir Putin, which comes as relations between Washington and 
Moscow have sunk to a post-Cold War low.

   Borrell told the council in a virtual address that the COVID-19 pandemic 
"has underscored the fragility of our hyper-globalized and interdependent 
world."

   "The demand for multilateral solutions is much greater than the supply," he 
said, pointing to "more divisions, more free-riding and more distrust than the 
world can afford."

   "We need global cooperation based on agreed rules because the alternative is 
the law of the jungle, where problems don't get solved," he said. "Every day we 
see the cost of the absence of multilateral action in reduced access to 
vaccines and insufficient climate action, and peace and security crises that 
fester."

   Borrell blamed "the rise in power politics and ideological contests" that 
erode trust, stressing the EU's commitment to the U.N. and to "rules-based 
multilateralism." He said there must be pushback against "selective and 
self-serving approaches to multilateralism."

   Russia's deputy ambassador Dmitry Polyansky strongly disagreed with 
Borrell's view of the world.

   EU-UN cooperation should lead to strengthening multilateral approaches to 
global affairs, he said, but the EU more often chooses "destructive unilateral 
approaches over careful and patient collective work seeking compromise and 
constructive solutions."

   "True multilateralism entails consistent support for the central role of the 
United Nations," he said. "Promoting dubious concepts like the `rules-based 
order' or imposing bloc approaches and attempts to present one's own experience 
and achievements as a golden standard which other countries should implement 
back at home -- all of it bears no resemblance to multilateralism and often 
leads to blatant interference in the affairs of other states."

   Unfortunately, Polyansky said, EU-Russian relations "are currently at the 
lowest ebb in history."

   He warned the European bloc against interfering in other countries' affairs 
including by taking action against Belarus, a close Moscow ally.

   Borrell sharply criticized the "massive repression of peaceful protesters" 
after last August's presidential elections in Belarus, which were widely seen 
as rigged, and the recent "major attack on air safety," when a civilian 
aircraft was diverted to its capital and a prominent journalist and his 
girlfriend were taken off and arrested.

   The EU's chief diplomat said the bloc has closed its airspace to Belarus 
airlines and is in the process of adopting a new package of economic sanctions.

   Borrell also alluded to sharp differences with Moscow over Syria, where its 
close ally Russia holds the key to continued cross-border delivery of 
humanitarian aid to millions in need, and in Ukraine, where Borrell called 
Russia "a party to the conflict" in the east and urged Moscow "to take a 
constructive stance" to implement the Minsk peace plan.

   Elsewhere, Polyansky questioned the EU's naval operation in the 
Mediterranean to implement the U.N. arms embargo on Libya, urging it "to tread 
very carefully in this region." He said Russia also believes the EU "can do 
better as a mediator" between Kosovo and Serbia, which has close ties to 
Moscow. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a decade after a 
brutal war between separatist ethnic Albanian rebels and Serb forces.

   Polyansyky warned the EU that it intends "to more adamantly and 
uncompromisingly fight" against what he said was the bloc's promotion of its 
own approaches on gender, human rights, climate and other topics in U.N. 
documents "as allegedly universal and consensus-based."

   U.S. political coordinator Rodney Hunter affirmed the U.S.-EU partnership, 
saying it is built on shared values and the pursuit of trans-Atlantic 
prosperity and security. He also "unequivocally" affirmed the EU's role as "a 
crucial partner to the United Nations," particularly in the Security Council's 
efforts to maintain peace and security in the world.

   At the same time, Hunter was sharply critical of Russia, saying its actions 
in Ukraine including the occupation of Crimea, remain "a threat to European 
security." He stressed U.S. and EU "unwavering" support for the sovereignty and 
territorial integrity of Ukraine and of Georgia, where Russian forces occupy 
the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions.

   "We will continue to stand with our allies and partners in calling on Russia 
to immediately cease its evolving military, economic, diplomatic and 
disinformation efforts to destabilize Ukraine and Georgia," Hunter said, adding 
that the U.S. also supports EU actions against Belarus.

   Polyansky ended his remarks saying he didn't want everyone to think that 
"Russia has a negative attitude to the EU." This isn't the case, he said, 
pointing to the EU's role coordinating meetings of parties to the 2015 nuclear 
deal between Iran and six major powers, which "we highly value."

   Borrell said the EU is working non-stop and making progress on getting the 
United States back in the nuclear deal, sanctions lifted against Iran, and a 
return to the agreement's limits on Iran's nuclear activities.

   "Negotiations are intense and slow on a number of issues, including on the 
precise sequencing of steps," he said. "There's still a lot of work to be done."

   Polyansky said there are other areas in addition to the Iran nuclear deal 
where Russia and the EU cooperate successfully.

   "Most importantly, the EU should understand that there is no place for 
hegemony and dominance in the modern world," he said.

 
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