State Department spokesman Ned Price was pressed Monday by Associated Press reporter Matt Lee on the Biden administration’s response to the ongoing tension between Ukraine and Russia.
Lee’s questioning centered on Monday’s meeting of the United Nations Security Council, at which ambassadors from the United States and Russia traded verbal barbs but did not reach a resolution or even a joint statement on the issue. Price defended the administration’s diplomatic approach to the issue and argued defensively that the Security Council meeting was productive.
“Did the Security Council actually do anything?” Lee asked bluntly, after Price argued that the Security Council takes the global lead in determining threats to international peace and reached a consensus that Russia was acting aggressively toward Ukraine.
Price began to answer, stating that the Security Council engaged in an “exposition of the facts,” but Lee cut him off.
“Haven’t there been expositions after expositions after expositions of this going back months now? You yourself get up here every single day … you talk about the G7, you talk about the EU, you talk about NATO, you talk about any number of international fora where this stuff has actually been agreed on.”
Price defended the administration’s emphasis on working with international partners, saying they wouldn’t apologize for engaging in “robust diplomacy,” and that if they were being criticized for diplomacy and transparency, they could accept that.
But Lee continued to press, honing in on Price’s claim that the Security Council was “united” in opposing Russia’s activity.
“I’m just curious as to when you say the world is united in opposing Russian aggression, and you say that because of what happened in the Security Council today, then that’s just flat wrong, because the world is not united,” he said. “There were two members of the council that vetoed, wielding members of the council that didn’t even want to have this meeting in the first place.” (RELATED: White House Pushes Back On Report That Biden Told Ukraine Their Capital Could Soon Be ‘Sacked’)
Of the 15 member states voting at the Security Council on Monday, only 10 voted to proceed with a discussion on the Russia-Ukraine situation. Three members abstained from the vote, while two — Russia and China — voted against. There also has not been international consensus on how to deal with the Russian threat, and President Joe Biden himself said recently that there was disagreement among NATO allies on how to deal with a “minor incursion” by Russia.
Lee asked once more how Price believes the United States advanced the cause of itself, NATO and Europe with the Security Council meeting. Rather than answer that directly, Price pivoted to discussing the “no” votes from Russia and China.