US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s claim of sending ‘peacekeepers’ into eastern Ukraine was simply “nonsense”.

Speaking at the emergency meeting of the UN Security Council Monday night, she said that Putin’s recognition of Russian-backed separatist regions in Ukraine was an “attempt to create a pretext for a further invasion of Ukraine”, according to a CNN report. 

“We know what they really are,” Thomas-Greenfield said of those about those forces.

Also Read: Russian troops could enter Ukraine’s separatist regions in coming hours: US official

“We must meet the moment and we must not look away. History tells us that looking the other way in the face of such hostility will be a far more costly path. President Putin is testing our international system. He’s testing our resolve and seeing just how far he can push us all,” she said, at the Security Council meeting held at the request of Ukraine, the United States and six other countries. Russia currently holds the rotating council presidency.

The remarks come after Russia, for the first time, recognized the independence of Moscow-backed rebel regions in eastern Ukraine. Donetsk and Luhansk regions – collectively known as the Donbas – broke away from Ukrainian government control in April 2014 and proclaimed themselves independent “people’s republics”. They are home to Russia-backed rebels who have been fighting Ukrainian troops for around eight years.

Also Read: All you need to know about Donbas, eastern Ukraine’s breakaway region

“We must make it clear that an attack on Ukraine is an attack on the sovereignty of every UN member state and the UN Charter and that it will be met with swift and severe consequences,” Thomas-Greenfield added.

She also said that the Russian President has “made a series of outrageous false claims about Ukraine, aimed at creating a pretext for war, and immediately thereafter announced Russian troops are entering the Donbas”.

Also Read: Ukraine president to nation: ‘We are not afraid of anyone’

“In essence, Putin wants the world to travel back in time, to time before the United Nations to a time when empires ruled the world. But the rest of the world has moved forward. It is not 1919. It is 2022. The United Nations was founded on the principle of decolonization, not recolonization and we believe the vast majority of UN member states and the UN Security Council are committed to moving forward not going back in time,” the UN ambassador added. 

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Meanwhile, a press release of the United Nations dated Monday, reads, “The Secretary-General is greatly concerned by the decision by the Russian Federation related to the status of certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. He calls for the peaceful settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, in accordance with the Minsk Agreements, as endorsed by the Security Council in resolution 2202 (2015).”

Secretary-General António Guterres, it added, considers the decision of the Russian Federation to be a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and inconsistent with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.