There is no sign that the Biden administration has decided to launch a serious international legal critique of Russia’s mobilization of troops near the Ukranian border and its implicit and not so implicit threats of invasion.
The call for an “open meeting” of the Security Council suggests that the Biden administration and the new U.S. Ambassador don’t have a clear idea of their objectives, or even of the technical terms that are used in the U.N. Charter.
Is the U.S. calling for an “Emergency Meeting” of the Security Council to consider a situation that threatens international peace and security, under Article 39 of the Charter?
Is the Biden administration drafting a resolution to be discussed and voted on at the Monday meeting?
It appears not, as there has been no discussion of such a resolution.
Or is the Biden administration simply calling a meeting where Council members can speak in banalities and circumlocutions, since there is no specific resolution before them whose terms they can debate and upon which they must decide?
Is the U.S. simply calling the meeting because someone in the State Department woke up on Thursday morning and realized that Russia will assume the rotating Presidency of the Security Council for the month of February on Tuesday? Russia’s holding the Presidency could make the convocation of a meeting more difficult–particularly as Russia opposes enen holding a meeting on Monday, January 31.
Together with one or more of the above reasons, could it be simply a maneuver to placate advocates of involving the Security Council and the General Assembly in efforts to diffuse the situation, without actually doing anything other than convoking a gabfest?
The meeting on Monday would be a great opportunity to make a very strong legal case against Putin and Russia, building support among a broad coalition of nations for a resolution.
A recorded vote on the resolution would force countries to take a stand, including even China which would have to decide between casting its veto and simply abstaining.
After a Russian veto, the resolution could be taken to the General Assembly for a recorded vote. Such steps could change the equation for Putin and Russia, and help lead to deescalation and a resolution of the conflict.
Such broad support could be particularly helpful in efforts to control escalation and bring a war to a halt should Putin launch an invasion.
Still, we must remember that Joe Biden is an alumnus of the Barack Obama school of appeasement, whose leader in 2014 bent over backwards to avoid doing anything that might provoke Vladimir Putin, particularly after Putin and his surrogates made veiled threats of nuclear war.
The international lawyers and other State Department and national security officials should be burning the midnight oil tonight, working on a draft resolution to present to the Security Council by tomorrow, Saturday, to allow time for translation and printing of the draft resolution before the meeting on Monday.
Will they present a resolution for the meeting on Monday?
How do they plan to overcome the opposition of Russia when it takes over the Presidency of the Council on February 1?
Can we expect effective action from the foreign policy team that gave us the Afghanistan debacle?
We should certainly hope such action is forthcoming.
The Trenchant Observer