Thank you for convening this briefing and for your personal dedication to countering Russian aggression against my country. Our words of appreciation also go to the briefers for their important presentations.
I want to thank other delegations for their strong remarks, solidarity and united condemnation of Kremlin’s revanchist policies.
Last week, Russia’s role in the MH17 downing was clearly exposed by the JIT investigators. Namely, that the Russian BUK missile system was brought from a military base near Kursk, it shot down a passenger airliner and then returned back to Russia.
Russia’s reaction to the JIT announcement did not surprise me. We earlier saw the same attitude on chemical attacks in Syria and in Salisbury. First — denial and spreading dozens of versions that have nothing to do with reality. Once caught red-handed, the Russian Federation refuses to recognize the conclusion of investigative bodies under the pretext of not being part of investigation. It also complains that all its weird versions of events were not taken into consideration.
We have no doubts that downing of MH-17 flight is a terrorist act. By 12 June Ukraine will submit a memorandum to the International Court of Justice with additional evidences of Russia’s violations of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.
The perpetrator of this and other crimes will be brought to account.
As we speak here today in this Chamber, violence continues to ravage Donbass.
The conflict left 4.4 million people in a dire humanitarian situation; the humanitarian cost continues to mount. These people lack access to basic services and goods. Critical water, electricity, and transport infrastructure is being destroyed. The same goes for health facilities and services.
Retired people are unable to receive their pensions as the Government of Ukraine cannot reach these people directly. They need to cross into the government-controlled areas of Ukraine to receive their due payments.
Daily shelling and armed hostilities — this is the reality for more than 600 000 Ukrainians living on both sides of the contact line.
The area, according to the UN, has already become the most mine-contaminated stretch of land in the world.
One of the starkest reminders of the cost of Russian aggression came two weeks ago. On
18 May, the Russian occupation forces shelled with 152 mm calibre artillery residential areas in the village of Troitske in the Luhansk region. Two civilians lost their lives, including an underage child.
And this is a picture of Dariya Kazemirova. Three days ago, she turned 15. Just yesterday she was killed in the backyard of her house by a 122 mm shell prohibited by Minsk agreements shot by the Russian proxies.
I will ask the Russian delegate: is this shell from the latest so-called humanitarian convoy? Or did the Russian proxies buy heavy ammunition and weaponry in local supermarkets?
Ukraine continues to be fully committed to peace and to Minsk agreements. But the unwillingness of the other side — the Russian Federation — to do the same, as well as Russia’s persistent denial of its responsibility as a party to the conflict have a devastating impact on the situation on the ground.
Russian shelling has resulted in substantial losses among military personnel and civilian population. Hundreds of tanks, howitzers and MLRS brought by Russia into the territory of Ukraine remain largely unaccounted for and are often found masked and hidden, ready for further violence. The activities of Russia’s occupation authorities are already causing an ecological disaster in Donbas.
The shootings carried out by Russia in the vicinity of the Donetsk Water Filter Station make operation of this critical infrastructure facility impossible.
The plans of the occupation administration to shut off pumps at the Yunkom mine — the site of Soviet nuclear test in 1979 — risk radioactive contamination of drinking water.
Russia even fails to provide security guarantees necessary for repairs and maintenance of critical civilian infrastructure along the contact line.
The OSCE SMM faces severe restrictions to its freedom of movement caused by Russia’s military and their proxies. Intimidations of observers take place almost on a daily basis, without any reaction from Moscow or Russian occupation administration in Donbas.
In a nutshell, as everyday developments show, Russia and its ongoing military activity in the occupied territories of Donbas remain the obstacle to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
As soon as Moscow takes the decision to stop violence, the conflict will end.
I urge Russia to take this decision.
As a first step, it has to support deployment of a full-fledged UN mandated peacekeeping force throughout the whole occupied territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. We are confident that such operation can contribute a great deal to establishing hard security, creating necessary conditions for real progress on the Minsk agreements implementation, taking over responsibility on the ground and saving people. This will open the way for progress in implementing political steps under the Minsk agreements, in organizing and holding local elections in the first place.
We sent this message across before — loud and clear. And I reinforce this message today — on the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, introduced at Ukraine’s initiative.
We stand for reintegration of all of our Donbas. We will welcome our compatriots back.
In December 2017, the Government of Ukraine approved the state program on the post-conflict recovery in the country’s eastern regions for 2017–2020. The program is aimed at boosting social and economic development of the conflict-affected regions and improving the well-being of the local population.
Ukraine is grateful for the humanitarian assistance provided by the UN agencies and bilateral partners. The 2018 UN Humanitarian Response Plan becomes even more instrumental for effectively addressing the needs of millions of conflict-affected people in Donbas. If fully-funded, it would help make a substantial difference for at least 2.3 million people targeted by the HRP.
Along with highlighting the situation in the occupied territories of Donbas, it is also important to maintain a special focus on the Russian occupation of Crimea.
These actions of the Russian Federation constitute the most flagrant breach of the UN Charter since the World War II. They challenged the norms and rules of international law and created the atmosphere of fear and hatred.
The occupation resulted in accelerated militarization of Crimea. Russia has more than doubled the strength of its military there and continues the preparation of Crimean military infrastructure for deployment of nuclear weapons, including refurbishment of Soviet-era nuclear warhead storage facilities. In fact, Crimea today is a huge military base often used for Russian interventions in distant hot spots, including Syria. In return, the Syrian regime thankfully sends delegations to Crimea and as it happened today recognized so-called independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The occupation continues to be characterized by gross violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, blatant suppression of opposition and systematic persecution of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians as the most vulnerable communities.
Along with killings and enforced disappearances, intimidation and fierce attacks on the Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian identity and culture, the phenomenon of political prisoners has become the sad reality in the Russia-occupied Crimea. My courageous compatriots fight now not only for freedom and justice, but for their lives as well.
On 14 May, Oleh Sentsov, film director thrown behind bars in Russia for opposing the illegal annexation of Crimea, wrote these words to the people of Ukraine:
“I, Oleh Sentsov, citizen of Ukraine, illegally sentenced by the Russian court and currently in the prison of the city of Labitnangi, declare an indefinite hunger strike as of 14 May 2018. The only condition for its termination is the liberation of all Ukrainian political prisoners, kept in the territory of the Russian Federation”.
He added that he is ready to die for the freedom of his compatriots illegally detained and sentenced in Russia.
Since March 19, Volodymyr Balukh, a political prisoner in the Russia-occupied Crimea, has been on an indefinite hunger strike in protest against his sentence under fabricated charges. The real cause of his persecution is the resolute pro-Ukrainian stand and a Ukrainian flag over his private residence.
Emir-Usein Kuku, Nariman Memedeminov, Server Mustafaiev, Edem Smailov, Uzeir Abdullaiev and many many other Crimean Tatars became a special target of repression by the occupying authorities in Crimea.
They now need support of all those who value freedom and human rights. Using this opportunity, I urge the Security Council members and the wider UN community to join our call on Russia to free them.
Russia keeps ignoring the order of the International Court of Justice issued one year ago that required, among other things, to refrain from maintaining or imposing limitations on the ability of the Crimean Tatar community to preserve its representative institutions, including the Mejlis as well as to ensure the availability of education in the Ukrainian language. Despite the clear wording of this Order, an entire year has passed and Russia continues to maintain its ban of the Mejlis.
Russia continues its blatant disregard for the provisions of UN General Assembly resolutions on Crimea.
Denial of access for international human rights monitoring missions to Crimea, utmost contempt for its obligations under international law as the Occupying Power, continuing practice of compelling Crimean residents to serve in the armed forces of the Russian Federation — these are examples of Russia’s response to the demands of international community. And this list of violations is practically endless.
Just two weeks ago, on 15 May, Russia opened a bridge through the Kerch Strait. We condemn this step and consider it as yet another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty. Ukraine is grateful to those countries that already denounced this attempt to cement the illegal occupation of Crimea. We urge all other states and organizations, including the UN, to support this position.
Russia is also trying to change demography of the peninsula. Since the beginning of the occupation, a huge number of settlers were brought to Crimea by the occupying power. It created unbearable conditions for local population forcing them to leave. I want to remind the Russian delegation that this practice is a clear violation of Geneva Convention 1949.
Time and again we urge the Russian Federation to reverse the illegal occupation of Crimea and to stop its aggression, including by withdrawing its armed formations from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and fully implementing its commitments under the Minsk agreements.
Until this is done, the issue of Russian aggression should remain of high priority on this Council’s agenda.
In conclusion, I would like to once again express my gratitude for messages of solidarity with Ukraine that were expressed during this briefing.
Another point which I must highlight. We just received information that Mr. Arkadiy Babchenko, a well-known Russian journalist and severe critic of the Russian regime was killed today in Kyiv. It’s early to make any conclusions as the investigation is under way. But there is astounding similarity of methods how Russia provokes political destabilization.
It really pains me to provide you with detailed lists and stories of the Russian aggression against my country, since this issue is a matter of life and death of many of my fellow Ukrainians.
There is nothing I would have wanted more than being able to tell you that we reached a resolution of the conflict.
But since the end is nowhere near in sight, we will not spare any effort to ensure that justice is served and the Russian state bears full responsibility for its aggression.
I thank you