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A showdown over Russian military threats against Ukraine is looming at the United Nations Security Council as President Joe Biden’s administration accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin of pursuing an imperialist ambition to subjugate a country liberated by the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“The situation on the ground requires us to engage in preventive diplomacy to avoid a crisis before it is upon us,” a senior administration official told reporters Friday.

"The questions on the table on Monday really go to the heart of the UN Charter — whether one country can militarily threaten or invade its neighbor ... even whether a former empire can use force to wrench its former territory from a sovereign nation.”

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield orchestrated the meeting as officials around the world await Putin’s response to a pair of diplomatic maneuvers by Western powers. U.S. and NATO officials provided a written response to a Russian “draft treaty” proposal that Moscow had sought on the same day that France and Germany jump-started a dialogue with Russia and Ukraine, known as the Normandy Format, designed to broker an end to the long-running war in eastern Ukraine. Yet the trans-Atlantic allies rebuffed Russia’s main demands for NATO, and the prospects for the Normandy Format remain uncertain.

RUSSIA IS 'DEPLOYING MORE TROOPS' TO BELARUS AMID 'CONTINUED MILITARY BUILDUP,' NATO SAYS

“We hope and expect that our council colleagues will express their desire to pursue a path of diplomacy rather than the path of war,” the senior administration official said.

Russian officials maintain that they have no interest in conflict with Ukraine, which they insist is embroiled in a civil war between the central government in Kyiv and ethnic Russians living in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. A diplomatic resolution to that conflict already has been negotiated through the Normandy Format, a deal known as Minsk II, which Moscow contends has been “sabotaged” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Ukrainian and Western officials counter that Russian-controlled forces in Donbas have failed to fulfill their obligations under the deal, which Putin helped draft under false pretenses.

“Russia has stepped up its efforts to destabilize Ukraine and undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty over the past year,” U.S. Mission to the United Nations Political Coordinator Rodney Hunter told the Security Council during a discussion of the Ukraine crisis last year. “Russia continues to deny that it controls the conflict in eastern Ukraine and falsely presents itself as a mediator to this conflict, even though it is, in fact, the instigator.”

A recent flurry of statements about the Minsk deals perhaps previews their approach to the Monday meeting. Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev echoed Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov by accusing Zelensky of failing to “implement ... the Minsk Agreements.” They have carried that message around the world; the Russian ambassador to Australia convened a press conference in Canberra to tell reporters that Moscow wants Zelensky to give the Russian-controlled territory a “special status” in the Ukrainian political system.

Pavlovsky: "we support the Minsk arrangements. We want them implemented. We want a special status for these regions (i.e. parts of Donetsk and Luhansk) inside Ukraine, (but) it has been sabotaged for years by the Kiev government" 7/

— Stephen Dziedzic (@stephendziedzic) January 28, 2022

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his subordinates likewise have begun to amplify that demand, both in conversations with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and in public.

“Wang Yi told Blinken that, to solve the Ukrainian issue, it is still necessary to return to the new Minsk agreement,” former Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming wrote on Twitter. “China will support any effort that conforms to the direction & spirit of the new Minsk agreement. We call on all parties to remain calm and refrain from inflaming tensions or hyping up the crisis. The security of one country should not be at the expense of the security of others.”

Those messages echo Russian talking points, undermining the likelihood that Russia will be isolated at the Security Council on Monday. Both Russia and China wield vetoes at the Security Council, along with the United States, the United Kingdom, and France.

But U.S. officials hope that Beijing will play a stabilizing role in the crisis.

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“It's not in China's interest to see a conflict in this situation,” a senior administration official said. “So, we hope that China will be speaking to these principles, the importance of upholding these principles, and to the path of diplomacy on Monday as well.”

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Brazils Bolsonaro accuses Supreme Court justice of abuse

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has filed a complaint with the Supreme Court accusing one of its justices of abusing his authority, marking the latest escalation of confrontations between the far-right leader and the top court.

The complaint filed on Monday targets Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who is overseeing an investigation to determine whether some of Bolsonaro’s most ardent allies are running a social media network aimed at spreading threats and fake news against Supreme Court justices.

In his complaint, Bolsonaro accused de Moraes of slow-walking the fake news inquiry and hurting his image in an electoral year.

The complaint has broader political context as well: De Moraes will preside over the nation’s electoral authority in the upcoming election, when Bolsonaro will seek a second term, and the president has repeatedly raised questions about whether the vote will be fair.

Bolsonaro began showing animosity to the Supreme Court with the opening of the so-called fake news investigation in 2019. He has been openly feuding with the court since early in the pandemic, when justices ruled that mayors and governors have jurisdiction to determine restrictions to slow the virus’s spread;

Bolsonaro was a fierce opponent of lockdowns and other restrictions. Last year, he requested the Senate move to impeach de Moraes and threatened to disregard any of the justice’s rulings.

“Either the (fake news) inquiry is being unjustifiably extended to the detriment of those being investigated, since after more than thirty-six months there is not even a partial report of the investigations. Or, there are partial reports and justifications for proceeding with the inquiry that are being hidden from the defense (attorneys),” the complaint stated.

Bolsonaro’s lawyer also questioned the justification for including the president as a target of the investigation. Bolsonaro was included after organizing a live broadcast on social media in which he contested the reliability of electronic voting machines. He has repeatedly sown doubt about the voting system, though never presented any evidence of fraud.

Luiz Claudio Araujo, a law professor at Ibmec University, said the Supreme Court could either open an internal investigation, which would be carried out by the police, forward the complaint to the Attorney General’s office for review, or ignore the complaint.

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