Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s interview with BBC World News’ Laura Trevelyan
Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
United States Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
August 12, 2022
QUESTION: Ambassador, how concerned are you about the bombings in and around the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Russian-occupied Ukraine?
AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We are very concerned about the situation around this factory. We asked the Russians to leave this factory and allow the IAEA to intervene and carry out investigations to ensure that the factory is safe. And for the moment they have not accepted this, although they have asked for it. And as you know, we will have a meeting at the Security Council – a meeting called by the Russians – where we will insist that they allow the IAEA access to the plant. And that they stop using this factory as a military base.
QUESTION: Ukraine and Russia blame each other for the bombardment around this nuclear power plant. Does the United States have any intelligence on who is really behind all of this?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We dont do. But that’s why we want the IAEA to come in to see exactly what’s happening on the ground and to make sure the plant is safe. If there is a conflict around the factory, it has to stop.
QUESTION: The Secretary General of the United Nations calls for a demilitarized zone around this nuclear power plant. Does the United States support this idea?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, we support all efforts that will allow this factory to be safely administered and made into a demilitarized zone, which means that the Russians leaving the factory is something that we support.
QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, you have just been in Africa, where the war in Ukraine is driving up food prices. You have been to Ghana, Uganda, Cape Verde. What were the leaders telling you? Are their people hungry because of this war?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: They are certainly suffering because of the war. There are shortages because of the war. Prices are extraordinarily high for energy, as well as for fertilizers. When I was in Ghana, I met farmers who told me that they had to reduce their production because of the lack of fertilizer. A farmer who normally planted 10 acres told me he only planted four because he didn’t have enough fertilizer.
So, yes, all the leaders recognize that there is an impact in their country because of the war. They are all calling for an end to the war, but they are also looking for help and ways to address these immediate concerns. And that was the purpose of my visit to talk to them about how we could help them.
QUESTION: And you were in Uganda, Ambassador, just a week after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited. Have you found as much support in Africa for the Russian narrative that it is actually Western sanctions over the war in Ukraine that are driving up food prices and affecting Africans?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I think Africans know the truth. They know that before the start of this war, they did not know this level of scarcity. I told them clearly that we have no sanctions on agricultural products from Russia – that Russia can export these products, that it can buy these products. There is no reason for Russia not to provide aid. And hopefully when Lavrov was in Uganda, in Africa, he talked about how Russia could facilitate more Russian wheat to market.
QUESTION: Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield, thank you very much for being with us.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thanks.