Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

Kyiv 17:09

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Daily Briefing

28 March 2014, 15:54

Ukraine - UN 

On March 27, 2014, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly (100 votes- “for",

11 votes- "against" ) approved a resolution “On the territorial integrity of Ukraine " proposed by Acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine Andrii Deshchytsia as part of the General Assembly’s agenda regarding prevention of armed conflict. 

The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the document (A/RES/68/262) confirming Ukraine's territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders and calling on all States to desist and refrain from actions aimed at the partial or total disruption of Ukraine’s national unity and territorial integrity, including any attempts to modify Ukraine’s borders through the threat or use of force or other unlawful means. Underscoring that the March 16, 2014 “referendum” in Crimea that led to the peninsula’s annexation by Russia has no validity, the General Assembly called on all States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any changes in the status of Crimea and Sevastopol on the basis of the “referendum”, and to refrain from any actions or steps which could be construed as acceptance of the “referendum” results. 

The Resolution is an important political and legal document that confirms the status quo of the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine and should prevent international recognition of the illegal “referendum”  and annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. Despite its non-binding character, the UN resolution in support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine will serve as vital political guidance for a majority of the Member States. The resolution will help guide executive agencies of Member States in forming a foreign policy position on Crimea, and could be used in dealing with certain types of cases in the national courts of those Member States. 

Co-authors of the resolution included all of the EU Member States, the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey and many others, totaling 47 member states from all regions of the world. Thus, the arguments of the Russian Federation and its allies, who voted against the resolution (Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, North Korea, Nicaragua, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and Armenia), demonstrated the hollowness of their political and legal positions. And the outrageous nature of the ridiculous assertion of the Russian Federation's permanent representative to the UN, that in the Trade Unions Building, where the Opposition has its headquarters during the mass protests in Kyiv, “the US Embassy headquarters was housed on the seventh floor" from which sniper fire allegedly originated targeting representatives of both sides, was beyond comprehension. 

At the same time, it was telling that direct recognition of the "referendum" and the annexation of  Crimea by the Russian Federation was not supported by any of its allies among the Member States. 

Thus, the vote in which the Russian Federation was supported by only 10 countries who voted against (compared to 100 voting for) the resolution, once again proved its total international isolation.  Please note that almost all the "friends" of the Russian Federation belong to the camp of least democratic and least developed countries and are subject to constant international criticism for gross violations of fundamental rights and freedoms. 

Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine on the approval of the UN General Assembly resolution “On the territorial integrity of Ukraine" 

The UN General Assembly’s approval on March 27, 2014 of the resolution “On the territorial integrity of Ukraine" demonstrated full support of Ukraine by the international community in the face of armed aggression by the Russian Federation and the annexation of the territory of the country: 100 countries voted for the resolution, and 47 countries became its co-authors. 

This resolution not only confirms the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, but also provides protection from any illegal attempts to change the borders of Ukraine, including by means of the threat or use of force. The international community unequivocally reaffirmed the inadmissibility of acceptance of any changes in the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol based on the illegal “referendum” of March 16. 

The vote also revealed that due to gross violations of all possible rules of international law, including of the Charter of the United Nations, Russia found itself in international isolation, not only in European organizations - the OSCE and Council of Europe - but also at a global level. 

Some states, subjected to pressure and intimidation by the Russian side, voted contrary to the UN Charter and the fundamental principles of international law.  Subsequent conclusions will be based on the analysis of the positions of all States. The position of some of these States will leave  Ukraine no choice but to take concrete steps that will effect bilateral relations, including interaction within international organizations.

 ***

The vote on March 27 regarding respect of the territorial integrity of Ukraine revealed the true state of affairs in the international arena. Specifically, to the Russian Federation, the aggressor, who violated this territorial integrity. 47 countries co-sponsored the resolution. 100 countries voted in favor of it. Only 11 (including the aggressor) - opposed it. 

The Russian representatives may attempt to use creative arithmetic, but it does not hide the truth. The truth is that today, only 10 countries stood by the Russian Federation, including the dictatorships of North Korea and Syria, whose dictators remain in power by relying on infusion of capital from Moscow; along with Zimbabwe (absolute world champion in inflation), and Sudan (which the world associates with civil war and the genocide in Darfur). 

Ukraine regrets the position taken by Belarus and Armenia. We will consider this position when making the decision on the further development of relations with these countries. However, we realize that the decision of the political leadership to support the partition of Ukraine does not reflect the opinion of millions of Belarussians and Armenians. 

Trying to pull together a coalition in support of its position, the Russian Federation had resorted to its oft-used tool of geopolitical manipulations - trying to play on the weaknesses and contradictions of the modern world, to attract to their side the injured and the weak. But even this proven tool provided only 10 votes in its favor. And in this moment of truth, not only Ukraine, but the entire international community, can be proud of their stance, which cannot be bought with any amount of oil dollars. 

Today, the UN Security Council will meet in a closed session to hear the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ’s report on the outcome of his visits to the Russian Federation (March 20) and Ukraine (March 21-22) related to his "good will" mission to facilitate the settlement of the crisis instigated by the Russian Federation. 

These consultations will be the ninth meeting of the UN Security Council with regard to Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian military aggression against our country. 

On March 31, the UN Security Council, on the initiative of Lithuania (the current president) and Ukraine, will hold an open meeting on the situation regarding our country, in which delegations from all UN member states and non-governmental organizations and civil society will participate (the format of this type of meeting is the Arria-formula). 

In particular, the Lithuanian president of the UN Security Council invited the former Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, the human rights activist Mustafa Dzhemiliov, and  the well-known Crimean journalist, Director of the Information and Press Center in Simferopol Valentina Samar. 

The Ukrainian delegation will take part in the Arria-Formula meeting. 

The situation in Crimea and at the Ukrainian borders (as of 12:00 03/28/2014) 

The situation at the national border of Ukraine and in the border regions controlled by Ukraine has not changed in the last 24 hours. The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation is taking steps to further destabilize the situation in the south-eastern regions of Ukraine. There continues to be massing and redeployment of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation near the border with Ukraine. The security services of the Russian Federation are intensifying intelligence activities in the border regions of Ukraine. 

Specifically, the troops of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in Crimea are taking measures to strengthen their position at the administrative boundaries of the Kherson region. 

In the Luhansk border region, a partial withdrawal of military equipment deep into the territory of the Russian Federation was observed. 

However, at the Kharkiv region border with the Russian Federation, a marked concentration of landing assault units of the Russian Federation Armed Forces, aviation security and fire support was seen. 

In the Sumy border areas, movement of columns of military equipment in the direction of the border was observed. 

Near the Chernihiv border, trains arrived with tanks and military equipment for support of the Sixth Tank Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces. 

We are concerned that the Russian authorities chose to expand the military-industrial complex as one of the ways to consolidate and boost its presence in occupied Crimea.

Ukraine has identified a number of prioritized sites for development: the Sevastopol Marine Plant (Sevmorzavod), which has one of the largest shipyards in the Black Sea, the military-oriented  company CB SPA "Monsoon", which is engaged in the development and production of marine navigation, and the Sevastopol factory that repairs helicopters and helicopter engines. 

The restoration of military production on the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation is primarily aimed at the strengthening and expansion of the Black Sea Fleet as the dominant strategic naval unit in the Black Sea. 

Regarding refugees from Crimea 

According to the Embassy of Ukraine in the Republic of Poland, on March 22, 2014, a telephone conversation transpired with a Ukrainian citizen, who introduced himself as one of 32 refugees from Crimea, after which the Ukrainian and Polish media disseminated information about how a group of Crimean Tatars appealed to the Polish authorities for asylum. 

According to the available information, 17 of the refugees were children, with ages ranging from 5 to 18 years. 

According to the Ukrainian citizen, the group of 32 people fled to Poland due to the risk of physical violence at the hands of the so-called “Crimean Self-Defense” groups and soldiers of the Russian Federation Armed Forces. The threat of violence resulted from an active civic stance by the adult members of the group and assistance afforded by them to members of the Ukrainian military in Crimea. 

This group of individuals was moved to the Refugee Center in the city of Lukiv, Lublin province. 

Foreign visits to Ukraine 

On March 29 - April 1, a U.S. delegation led by Congressmen Mike Pompeo and Adam Schiff will visit Ukraine. They plan to hold meetings with the leaders of our country. 

Ukraine - OSCE 

On March 27, 2014, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine - Chief of Staff Andrii Olefirov received a delegation of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, led by Joao Soares, Special

Coordinator of the OSCE short-term observer mission for early presidential elections in Ukraine scheduled for May 25 , 2014, and Makis Voridis, Head of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly observer mission for early presidential elections in Ukraine. 

The delegation of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly will monitor the elections at the invitation of the Acting President of Ukraine, the Speaker of the Parliament of Ukraine O.V.Turchynov. 

The Ukrainian side confirmed its readiness to conduct free, fair and democratic elections and its willingness to provide comprehensive assistance to the work of the international observers. 

They also exchanged views on the political situation in Ukraine and developments around the illegal annexation by the Russian Federation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. The delegation of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly reaffirmed support for the territorial integrity and inviolability of the borders of Ukraine. 

Regarding the return of the exhibit "Crimea - golden island in the Black Sea”, now on exhibit at the Allard Pierson Museum (Amsterdam, Netherlands) from 02.06.2014 till 05.28.2014, to the National Museum Fund of Ukraine. 

According to a decision made back in 2013, the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine agreed to lend the collections of the Central Museum of Tavrid consisting of 132 exhibits, the Kerch Historical and Cultural Reserve consisting of 190 exhibits, the National Reserve “Cherson Tavriysny" consisting of 28 exhibits, and the Bakhchisaray Historical and Cultural Museum consisting of 215 exhibits, for the purpose of the exhibit "Crimea - golden island in the Black Sea" in the Rhineland Regional Museum in Bonn (for display on January 19th, 2014) and the Allard Pierson Museum - the archaeological Museum of the University of Amsterdam from February 6, 2014 to May 28, 2014. 

The term of the temporary transfer of exhibits according to the agreements and certifications for the temporary export of cultural property outside the territory of Ukraine ends on June 12, 2014. 

Given the situation which has arisen in Crimea, i.e. the occupation of this segment of the territory of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, and the fact that, according to Article 15 of the Law of Ukraine "Regarding museums and the museum business”, the objects in Ukrainian museums are considered national treasure, an integral part of the cultural heritage of Ukraine protected by law, the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine appealed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to request the return of the museum exhibits to Ukraine, and not, at the present time, to Crimea. 

Thus, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine is cooperating with the Ministry of Culture on the issue of returning to Ukraine the exhibits belonging to the State Museum Fund of Ukraine. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has provided our Dutch partners with the appropriate policy position of Ukraine. This issue is being given special attention by the Embassy of Ukraine in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. 

However, in the context of the recent statements by some officials of the Russian Federation, I  consider it imperative to point out the folly of any attempt to steal the national wealth of Ukraine, an integral part of its cultural heritage protected by law. 

Notably, the position of the Dutch side is quite reasonable and gives us every reason to expect  that the museum exhibits will not be given over to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea at this time, so as not to fall into the hands of a foreign country.

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