Press-release on the results of the extraordinary meeting of the Security Council of United Nations on the situation in Ukraine, May 2, 2014
On May 2, 2014, the Security Council of United Nations held its extraordinary meeting to discuss the situation in Ukraine. The meeting was convened by the Russian Federation in response to the beginning of the active phase of the antiterrorist operation by the Ukrainian Government in the Eastern Regions of Ukraine. The meeting was attended by all member states of the UN Security Council and by the delegation of Ukraine.
During the meeting Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations for Political Affairs expressed concern over the worsening situation in Eastern and Southern Ukraine, as exemplified by the capture of the office buildings in 12 cities and shot down the Ukrainian helicopters in Slavyansk. Mr. Jeffrey Feltman called for a return to the fulfillment of the Geneva agreement. He also informed that on behalf of the Secretary General he is going to visit Kyiv and Moscow during this week.
The UN Security Council meeting demonstrated monolithic support by overwhelming majority of its members granted to the actions undertaken by the Ukrainian authorities, as well as full isolation of the Russian Federation. Despite the false accusations of the Russian Federation concerning the methods of the Antiterrorist Ukrainian operation, none of the members of the UN Security Council, including China, put into question the sovereign right of the Ukrainian authorities to take all legal measures to restore law and order on its territory, including the use of the adequate force. The delegations were unanimous that the measures that are implemented now by the Ukrainian Government would be taken in such situation by every other member of the UN Security Council.
According to the Permanent Representative of the United States, Russia is pushing "monumental falsehood" about the Antiterrorist Ukrainian operation. The Russian tactics to seize government offices in the East of Ukraine is very similar to the Crimean scenario. Therefore, what is happening is not "peacekeeping" but direct Russian intervention.
According to the Permanent Representative of France, the World now clearly realizes who is trying to fulfill the Geneva agreement and who plucks it systematically by provoking unrests and inflaming the ethnic hostility through the activity of Russian intelligence service consulting terrorists.
According to the Permanent Representative of Australia, shot down the Ukrainian helicopters in Slavyansk, continuing violence in the East of Ukraine, which has spread to Odessa city, capturing of the administrative buildings are the components of the well organized provocation that are aimed at further destabilization of the situation in order to fail the preparation of the extraordinary Presidential elections in Ukraine.
Insofar the UN Security Council expressed the common vision on the crucial importance of the Presidential elections in Ukraine (May 25, 2014) that should be taken with widest international observation, as well as conducting of the inclusive Constitutional reform.
The delegations of Argentina, Jordan, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Chad, Chile, and other non-permanent members of the Security Council once again supported the need to respect the principles of the United Nations that guarantee the integrity of Ukraine, non-interference in the internal affairs of States and refraining from the threat of military force.
Traditionally the contrary position has been expressed by the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation, who pointed out that the Antiterrorist Ukrainian operation has the character of "punitive military operations involving ultra nationalistic organizations". He also accused Kiev in failure to fulfill the Geneva agreement.
The Russian draft of the summary statement of the President of the UN Security Council on the results of the meeting, the purpose of which was to stop the Antiterrorist Ukrainian operation, has not been supported by its members.
The last meeting of the UN Security Council once again demonstrated the international isolation of the Russian Federation whose position does not have any international support.
With a view to disclose the situation in the UN Security Council regarding Ukraine, please find enclosed:
- the Remarks and Responses by US Permanent Representative to the UN at the Security Council meeting on Ukraine, dated May 2, 2014;
- the Statement of the UK Mission to the UN, to the Security Council meeting on the situation on Ukraine, dated May 2, 2014;
- the Statement of the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN, to the Security Council meeting on the situation on Ukraine, dated April 29, 2014.
May 6, 2014
Remarks by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at Security Council Meeting on Ukraine, May 2, 2014
Thank you Mr. President. In recent months, this Council has met on more than a dozen occasions regarding the situation in Ukraine. Time and again, we have urged respect for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, adherence to international law, and steps to reduce tensions and de-escalate the crisis.
Just this past Tuesday, we met to discuss Russia’s inexcusable failure to fulfill its obligations under the April 17 Geneva agreement.
Russia is pushing two monumental falsehoods right now. The first falsehood is that the Ukrainians are carrying out a large-scale uncontrolled violent attack on unarmed civilians. This is false — the Ukrainian government is carrying out a targeted effort to contain Russian-sponsored paramilitary violence emanating from Slovyansk in an effort to deliver security for Ukrainian citizens. There is horrible violence in Eastern Ukraine, and that violence is coming, as it has been for weeks now, from Russian-directed agents and paramilitaries and their associates. The second monumental falsehood is that the Russian federation is deeply concerned by the instability in the East. The rest of us are deeply and sincerely concerned by this instability. But despite all of its rhetoric, Russia can’t be because Russia is causing this instability. This expressed concern is cynical and disingenuous and meant only to distract us from the reality that is playing out before our eyes.
Today, I want to focus on one main point. From the outset, the government of Ukraine has sought to resolve all issues peacefully – through dialogue both internally and with the Russian Federation. This policy of restraint continued even after Russia subverted Crimea, orchestrated an undemocratic separatist vote in Crimea, invaded Crimea, and announced to the world it had annexed Crimea – while lying about its intentions and even its presence in Crimea every step of the way.
As its country has been carved up, as foreign operatives have moved into its homeland, as masses of Russian troops have assembled along its eastern Border, and as Moscow has continued to threaten its territorial integrity and its people, Ukraine has continuously – day after day -- shown remarkable, almost unimaginable, restraint. It has done as this Council has asked. It has implemented its international agreements. It has refrained from military responses to aggression, even as Russia proudly announced that it had annexed part of Ukraine. Ukraine has over and over again committed and re-committed itself to direct dialogue with Moscow. And yet, in return for Ukraine’s reasonableness, Russia has destabilized, threatened, and terrorized.
In past weeks, the same scenario that played itself out in Crimea has been repeating itself in parts of eastern Ukraine. The same sudden appearance of unfamiliar men and new armaments. The same strategy of occupying buildings and taking control of the media. The same vicious propaganda directed against the government of Ukraine. And the same denials of Russian involvement. The same cries of outrage whenever Ukraine takes a step to assert its own rights, enforce its own laws, protect its own citizens, and restore order on its own territory.
The Ukrainian people and government have embarked on an effort today to reclaim one city in the eastern part of their country. Their response is reasonable, it is proportional, and frankly it is what any one of our countries would have done in the face of this threat.
Imagine, for a moment, if 26,000 square kilometers of Russian territory were seized by another country. Would Moscow show restraint week after week, day after day, in the hopes that rational dialogue rather than brute force would prevail? How would President Putin respond if parts of his country were seized to request to remove his army from those parts of the country. Seriously, there is some irony in Russian demands given the manner in which it would deal with separatism within its borders. It has been 63 days since Russia began its campaign to annex Crimea. And for 63 days, day after day, the Ukrainian government has chosen peace. Yet in those same 63 days, Russia, day after day, has chosen to pursue more territory. Consider the following facts, pro-Russian separatists have seized Donetsk’s railway control center and stopped almost all train movements. That is an illegal act. Separatists seized control of the Donetsk general prosecutor’s office in a violent clash that left more than two dozen people hospitalized. That is an illegal act. Separatists seized the prosecutor’s office in Horlivka. That is an illegal act. Pro-Russian activists beat up two Radio Svoboda journalists filming a protest near the Kharkiv regional administration building on May 1. That is an illegal act. We could go on and on and on about the illegal acts.
All told, in 17 towns in Eastern Ukraine, 32 building are under occupation, 21 by armed personnel. In addition, we’ve seen dozens of Ukrainian public officials illegally detained, three bodies pulled from a river near Donetsk, and a group of eight -- now seven -- OSCE monitors abducted in direct defiance not simply of Ukraine’s government, but in defiance of this Council and the world community.
Alongside all of this action, we have heard the Russian Federation building its case for intervention – outright intervention – including President Putin saying that eastern Ukraininan cities and Odessa were not part of Ukraine in the good old days, hearkening back to the glory of Novorossiyisk, and Ambassador Churkin taking the UN Charter’s name in vain, by invoking Article 51 and “self-defense” as “activated” during the Russian takeover of parts of Georgia and relevant here in the context of the crisis in Eastern Ukraine. The country that has a right of self-defense, Ambassador Churkin, is Ukraine.
Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine is a clear violation of international law, and Russia fools no one by calling its troops “peacekeepers.” Unfortunately, Russia does have a track record of using the term “peacekeeping” as a cover for unlawful military intervention and occupation without authorization from the UN Security Council. There is no evidence that the Ukrainian government has targeted Russian nationals or threatened Russia in any way, in stark contrast to the ongoing Russian actions to destabilize Eastern Ukraine. If Russia thinks peacekeeping forces are required in Ukraine, it should come to the UN Security Council and seek UN peacekeepers.
These separatists are not engaged in peaceful protest on behalf of their rights. Their rights are not being threatened. Their ability to use their language and have it recognized by the government is not being threatened. Their ability to participate fully as voters and citizens is not being threatened. It is their methods that have been intentionally provocative and threatening. The separatists are not pressing their case peacefully; they are using baseball bats, metal bars, clubs and knives. These are not activists, they are armed operatives. It must stop.
My colleagues, since the beginning of this crisis, the Ukrainian government has acted in good faith and with admirable restraint. The area around Kyiv’s City Hall is now clear of all Maidan barricades and protestors. Over the Easter holiday, Ukraine voluntarily suspended its counterterrorism initiative, choosing to de-escalate despite its fundamental right to provide security on its own territory and for its own people. Even today, as it tries to lawfully restore order, Ukrainian security forces are operating in a cautious and restrained manner. Unlike the separatists, Ukraine has cooperated fully with the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission and allowed its observers to operate in regions about which Moscow had voiced concerns regarding the treatment of ethnic Russians.
In addition, Prime Minister Yatsenyuk has publicly committed his government to undertake far-reaching constitutional reforms that will strengthen the power of the regions. He has appealed personally to Russian-speaking Ukrainians, pledging to support special status for the Russian language and to protect those who use it. He announced legislation to grant amnesty to those who surrender arms.
The fact that Ukraine has now taken some steps to try to restore order is to be expected. It is justified. It is what each and every one of the states we represent would do in a similar situation and would probably have done far earlier. The fact that Russia has chosen to call an emergency session in protest is yet another indication that the authorities in Moscow either underestimate the intelligence of the world community, or that they are trying to exactly replicate in Eastern Ukraine the charade that they were responsible for in Crimea. We are outraged by that prospect, but we are not fooled.
Just as Russia and its pro-Russian militia allies engage in a dramatic and dangerous campaign in Eastern Ukraine, the Russian government is spreading some of its most wild propaganda and fantasy stories since the beginning of the crisis. Over the course of this aggression, some of those entrusted with carrying out the functions of municipal government and those reporting impartially on the facts have begun to slowly disappear. Local councilmembers, local police, and journalists are missing and being held by armed operatives. International observers from the Vienna Document observation team, as you know, are being held in hostage. Those who have an interest and a mandate to report on the truth are being silenced. And that silence is being filled with relentless Russian propaganda and fiction that, it seems, they hope will justify whatever actions they decide to take. Today’s Russian Foreign Ministry’s ridiculous and false statement purporting Western intervention would not be so alarming if it did not suggest that Moscow is looking for nothing short of a pretext to invade. Russia may have the power to instigate fear, to spread lies, and to sow discord, violence and disarray across its border, it may even have the power to abuse its veto here at the Security Council – but as we have said in this chamber before, it cannot veto the truth.
These are dangerous days for Ukraine, and for all of us. If there is hope to deescalate, Russia must pull back its troops from the eastern border of Ukraine. It must cease its campaign of instability inside of Ukraine, and it must work to release the international observers and journalists who have been taken by armed men working on behalf of Moscow’s agenda.
Over the past 63 days, in the face of aggression and annexation, this Council implored the Ukrainians to demonstrate restraint and they heeded our call. We also asked Russia to stop invading its neighbor; sadly it did not. For that Russia must be held accountable.
In closing, I reiterate the support of my government for the principles of the UN Charter. We continue to support the scheduled May 25 elections that will enable the people of Ukraine to choose their leaders freely and fairly. We continue to seek a peaceful, democratic, inclusive, and united Ukraine. We remain committed to a diplomatic process. Finally, and most urgently, we call on Russia to cease its provocative acts and to fulfill the Geneva commitments from which it has walked away.
Response by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at a Security Council Meeting on Ukraine, May 2, 2014
I’d just like to offer a couple of points in response.
First, for the Russians to blame Ukraine for Ukraine’s actions in defense of its own people and its own territory really is starting to remind me of the story of the school boy who returned home with his nose bloody and his shirt torn. And asked by his mother how the fight started, he said “it started when the other boy hit me back.” We have to be clear about cause and effect here; and many Council members, including myself, have already gone through the facts that have brought us to this point.
But my second point is to just debunk one more of the lies that have been told in this chamber because it relates to my country, to the United States. People in this chamber have heard many many times, including just now, that the United States and other countries, but I’ll speak only for my country, never called on protestors in the Maidan to leave buildings or to avoid violence. So the implication is that we are holding Russian separatists to a different standard. This is a claim that has been made in almost every session that we have had.
And I would just like to just correct the record:
January 15th 2014: “We condemn the actions of rioters outside of Kiev court building on January 10th.”
January 22nd 2014: “The aggressive actions of members of extreme right group Pravy Sektor are not acceptable and are inflaming conditions on the streets and undermining the efforts of peaceful protestors. We condemn the targeted attacks against journalists and unofficial groups such as ‘titushki’.”
January 24th: “Protestors have occupied some regional administration buildings and we re-iterate our call for all protestors and government forces to refrain from violence and the destruction of property.”
January 27th : “We condemn – we’ve also made clear that we condemn the use of violence to seize government buildings, such as the takeover of a ministry of justice building that happened over the last couple days and a public exhibition hall this weekend and have continued to reiterate our call for all protesters and government forces to refrain from violence and the destruction of property.”
These are just a few of the statements that we have made but we could just take that particular lie off the table, that would be helpful and a little more constructive.
What’s more important now is where do we go from here. And what I would ask my Russian colleague is: Will Russia make public statements and will it work privately behind the scenes to urge Russian separatists to negotiate peacefully their departure from public buildings? Where does Russia assess that Russian separatists who claim loyalty to your government and who wear uniforms just like those of your soldiers obtain weapons and training capable of shooting down Ukrainian helicopters? And finally, Russia again repeatedly takes aim at the so called illegitimate government in Kiev but refuses to acknowledge ever in any of these sessions that it did not embrace the February 21 agreement when it was negotiated. And here we have a golden opportunity on May 25th for the people of Eastern Ukraine to have their voices heard, for them to choose their own leaders, for us to get to a universally legitimate government respected and chosen by all the people of Ukraine. And yet Russia will not come out in support of these elections and work with us to ensure that these elections take place, which would be the best way of ensuring rights, representativeness and more autonomy for the people of Eastern Ukraine.
Thank you, Mr. President
Statement by Ambassador Lyall Grant of the UK Mission to the UN, to the Security Council meeting on the situation in Ukraine, May 2, 2014
Thank you Mr President and I congratulate the Republic of Korea for assuming the Presidency of the Security Council in the month of May and I thank Ambassador Ogwu and the Nigerian team for the admirable way that they stewarded the Security Council during April.
Thank you for convening this meeting. The Russian Federation has described events this morning in eastern Ukraine as a punitive military operation against peaceful activists. This is, yet again, a gross distortion of the facts.
The Ukrainian government has the right and indeed the responsibility to uphold the rule of law and protect its citizens in its own territory. Of course, in doing so, it should at all times, do so in a proportionate and measured way.
The actions undertaken this morning by Ukrainian security forces in and around Slovyansk appear to have been just that, in an effort to relieve the city from armed groups sponsored and controlled by Russia that have been terrorizing the local population.
We urge them to continue to take every effort to ensure that the risks to civilians are minimized.
But let’s be absolutely clear: there is no Council member sitting around this table that would allow its towns to be overrun by armed militants. There is none of us that would abrogate responsibility for the protection of citizens on our own territory who are being intimidated and brutalised by heavily-armed groups backed by a neighbouring country.
Proportionate is not the same as passive.
The scale of Russian hypocrisy is breathtaking. Russia stoutly supports and indeed arms the most repressive regimes in the world, notably Syria, a regime which brutally represses dissent without any sense of restraint or concern for the protection of civilians. Russia’s synthetic indignation of Ukraine’s proportionate and measured actions convinces no one.
Russian claims that these are peaceful activists are simply not credible. Peaceful activists do not have the means or the capabilities to shoot down three Ukrainian military helicopters, reportedly using MANPADs. The use of such sophisticated weaponry against Ukrainian forces reaffirms our assessment that the armed groups in east Ukraine include professionals funded, equipped and directed by Russia.
The situation in east Ukraine has continued to deteriorate. Armed groups stormed the Prosecutor’s Office in Donetsk yesterday, increasing further the number of government buildings occupied since the 17 April Geneva agreement.
We remain gravely concerned by the kidnap and continued detention of the OSCE Vienna Document inspectors and call on Russia to condemn this criminal act and use its influence over those who are holding these inspectors to bring about their immediate safe and unconditional release.
We are deeply disturbed by reports of abductions and intimidation of journalists reporting from east Ukraine. This Council discussed the protection of journalists in an open debate last year. One of the clearest conclusions from that was the central importance of safeguarding a free media so that facts and the truth can be told. Instead what we are seeing in Ukraine is a torrent of disinformation and propaganda.
Three days ago, all the members of this Council emphasised the importance of the 17 April agreement and its implementation. Abiding by that agreement remains the best way to de-escalate a volatile and dangerous situation in east Ukraine. It is regrettable, therefore, that Russia’s Presidential press secretary said this morning that Russia did not think it any longer possible to implement the 17 April agreement.
Worsening instability in Ukraine is in no-one’s long term interests.
We urge Russia to step back from such rhetoric, to desist from their inflammatory propaganda and to commit to de-escalating a perilous situation.
We urge Russia to throw its full weight behind the 17 April agreement and to rein in the militant armed groups which it supports and which are responsible for the current crisis.
I thank you.
Statement by the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations Mr. Y.Sergeev, at Security Council Meeting on Ukraine, April 29, 2014
I thank you for convening this meeting and I thank USG Feltman for his briefing.
It has been less than a month since Russia occupied Crimea, having used military force and brutally violated a number of international treaties and law as a whole. As a result people in Crimea are now facing numerous humanitarian problems. One of them is the problem of “internally displaced persons”. Thousands of them had to leave the Crimean peninsula (their home) to Ukrainian mainland because of the occupation regime imposed by the Russian authorities. Almost 5 thousand Crimean tatars left, not willing to live in danger to their families.
Parliament of Ukraine adopted the Law on “Ensuring the rights and freedoms of citizens and legal status within the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine”. The Law provides that Crimea is the unalienable territory of Ukraine where Ukrainian legislation is in effect. Occupation authorities are responsible for human rights violations on the territory. Any use of natural resources and other state resources are prohibited if done contrary to the Ukrainian legislation. My Mission will circulate this Law among member states in order to inform them on the rules and procedures established by it.
Unfortunately, Russia has not stopped after annexation of Crimea. Apparently, Russian leadership is not fully satisfied and is now targeting other parts of Ukraine. They made it a custom to brazenly interfere in the internal affairs of Ukraine, this time targeting our eastern regions.
The agreements reached in Geneva at the quadrilateral meeting of foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russian Federation, the United States and the EU on April 17, 2014 provided faint beam of hope for diplomatic solution.
In implementation of commitments under Geneva statement and in order to achieve de-escalation of the situation in the eastern regions of Ukraine, the Government of Ukraine has taken the necessary practical steps within only one week:
-It suspended an active phase of the antiterrorist operation, main objective of which was restoration of law and order and protection of civilians from terrorists;
-Government of Ukraine has initiated constitutional reform. At the extraordinary meeting it approved the decision "On organizing the discussion on amendments to the provisions of the Constitution of Ukraine on decentralization of state power". Public discussion including local authorities, civil society, academic and business communities will be carried out in the span of the next few months with taking stock of the progress early in October.
-Government of Ukraine approved the Concept of local administrative reform, the main idea of which is decentralization (!) of power in the country, a significant empowerment of local communities, improving management at regional and district levels.
-A draft law on release of responsibility for participants in the riots in the eastern regions has been passed by the Government to the Parliament, which would apply to those protesters who surrender weapons and free illegally seized administrative buildings, except for the ones suspected of committing serious crimes.
-Ruling coalition invited all political parties represented in the Parliament of Ukraine to sign a memorandum of understanding regarding ways to resolve the situation in the East of Ukraine.
-Ministry of Internal Affairs and State Security Service continue implementing a nation-wide campaign to seize illegal arms from the population (more than 6,000 arms units have been handed over recently).
-Ukraine is demonstrating in practical terms its commitment to constructive cooperation with human rights institutions and international organizations, in particular by hosting a number of monitoring missions and special rapporteurs.
-The building of the Kyiv City State Administration has been vacated by the protesters. All Geneva parties and OSCE Special Monitoring Mission visited the premises of the Kyiv City State Administration on Monday.
What has Russia done as a part of Geneva Document?
Russia has done nothing.
Because of the lack of support for the separatists among the population of the eastern regions of Ukraine, Russia is seeking new ways to destabilize the situation in the region, preparing and carrying out numerous armed provocations through its agents.
Russian-sponsored illegal paramilitary units continue destabilizing the situation in the Eastern regions of Ukraine and creating grounds for a new stage of military aggression.
Russian leadership has done nothing to publicly dissociate themselves from armed separatists and provocateurs or urge them to immediately lay down their arms and release captured administrative buildings. Russia has not even joined international community in condemnation of the seizure of hostages, including journalists, as well as the facts of xenophobia and anti-Semitism, openly demonstrated by separatists.
Even more so, Russian-controlled armed groups, who in fact took hostage the civilian population of several towns in Donetsk region, have crossed the limit of humanity.
Any attempts by Russia to show that Ukrainian Government is trying to use force against peaceful Ukrainian population – is a lie.
Our Government respects the right for free expression of political views and for peaceful demonstrations. That is why people in Eastern Ukraine, even if some of them are fooled by Russian TV propaganda, are free to express their views in a peaceful manner.
BUT when heavily ARMED and professionally trained groups seize police offices and buildings, kill Ukrainian law enforcement officers and take hostages – those groups are TERRORISTS and will be treated as such.
Ukrainian anti-terrorist operation is targeted against terrorists only.
Let’s call a spade a spade. In eastern regions of Ukraine we are dealing with groups of terrorists, who, while being in an absolute minority, are heavily armed and intimidating local population. Just last week they have:
- killed member of Horlovka city council. They disemboweled him alive and then drowned into the river;
- abducted and taken hostage Ukrainian law enforcement officers, showing their photos with hands and eyes tied;
- kidnapped Ukrainian and foreign journalists, while Russian journalist are allowed to operate in terrorist-controlled areas;
- fired and destroyed military helicopter with MANPAD guided missile (you well understand that one cannot buy MANPAD in the local convenience store);
- taken hostage a group of the OSCE military observers and a number of accompanying Ukrainian staff, going as far as parading them in front of the cameras. We welcome yesterday’s strong condemnation this manifestation of terrorism received from the UN Secretary-General, who assured that “those who continue unlawful acts will be held accountable for their actions”.
The leaders of the terrorists have publicly taken full responsibility for majority of these crimes!
We are sure that all these hard facts will be addressed up front in the second report of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.
Russia had been publicly denying participation of its Armed Forces in the occupation of Crimea. However, now President Putin openly admits this and praises his military for their “heroism” and successful completion of this special operation.
And now, despite numerous irrefutable facts of Russian military involvement in organizing separatist and terrorist groups in eastern Ukrainian regions, Moscow claims just as hard that there are no Russian troopers or mercenaries in Ukraine.
Furthermore, Russia is now threatening to use force by concentrating its Armed Forces directly on the Eastern border of our country. In a clear-cut violation of the OSCE Vienna Document on Confidence and Security Building Measures, Russia has time and again refused to give an explanation about the purpose of its intense military activity near our borders, involving Southern and Western military districts of the Russian Federation Armed Forces.
Last week we all have heard an intensified militaristic rhetoric from Russian high officials, including President Putin, Minister Lavrov and Minister Shoygu, threatening to send Russian troops to the territory of Ukraine under various false pretexts.
Russian Defense Minister Shoygu reported the start of new military exercise of a battalion of tactical groups of the Russian Armed Forces because of the "the deteriorating situation in south-eastern Ukraine". According to the Russian Minister, the exercises of Russian combat aviation will also take place near the borders of Ukraine. With this, Russian side has in fact confirmed that its military activity near the Ukrainian border during the last months has not been routine in nature, but has been directly related to the developments in Ukraine.
Even my Russian colleague Vitaly Churkin joined this war ensemble, having said that “in case the events take a bad turn in Ukraine’s southeast, Russia will remember the permission to use armed forces in Ukraine given to President Vladimir Putin by the Federation Council”. He also said that Russia has international legal basis for sending its "peacekeeping" troops into Ukraine and referred to the right for self-defense, under Article 51 of the UN Charter, which Russia used during the conflict in the Caucasus in 2008.
Right for self-defense on the territory of another country?
Let me remind you that Ukraine has never threatened Russia and never will.
Ukrainians want to live in peace and want to be left alone.
The highest level of cynicism is a Russian reference to the right for self-defense in a situation where it is Russia who is aggressor, having occupied Crimea and today is brutally interfering in the internal affairs of Ukraine, destabilizing and trying to create an explosive situation in our eastern regions.
We suspect an unpleasant scenario is in the making, the same one which was played out by Russia in Abkhazia. This scenario envisages several stages.
Step 1 – a group of armed terrorists make local separatists proclaim the creation of so-called local Republic. We already have seen this step implemented in Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkiv, against the will of vast majority of local population and against Ukrainian Constitution.
Step 2 – under the barrels of guns, as it happened in Crimea, terrorists along with separatists hold illegal meeting of regional councils, trying to find some fake legitimacy for their actions. We have seen such attempts in the above-mentioned regions.
Step 3 – under pressure and the threat of force such regional councils adopt decision in brutal violation of domestic and international law proclaiming independence, allegedly implementing their right for self-determination.
Step 4 – Russian Federation immediately recognizes such regional units as independent states.
Step 5 – Upon request from new self-proclaimed authorities, Russian Federation sends in its troops under the guise of peacekeepers.
It is highly alarming that such a scenario cannot be ruled out in our case. It has already been reported that some Russian heavy military vehicles have been noticed near Ukrainian borders with special signs in Russian and Ukrainian languages, saying “Peacekeeping Mission”.
Let me sum up my address with short conclusions.
12 days have already passed since Geneva meeting.
Ukraine has done its utmost to de-escalate situation.
Our steps have been acknowledged and supported by OSCE, the US and EU.
Russia has done nothing. That is why Russia is not part of the solution. Russia is a problem.
How the problem should be solved? The answer is simple – Russia has to implement the Geneva document.
First, Russia should withdraw its army from the Ukrainian borders.
Second, it should make a high-level statement calling on its “protégés” to free all hostages, to disarm and to vacate all seized administrative premises.
Third, it should stop war-time rhetoric and start acting in constructive and civilized manner.
Last but not least, it should restrain from any actions aimed at undermining the May 25th Presidential elections in Ukraine.
We call on the Security Council to exercise its Charter responsibilities and influence Russia to follow this course, thus protecting Ukraine from further violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
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