Remarks to the press by Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, following the UN Security Council consultations on the situation in Ukraine
V.Churkin: At the Security Council consultations I read the statement which was issued today by our Foreign Ministry expressing concern and outrage for this attempted terrorist attack and the sabotage on the territory of the Republic of Crimea. And there was a discussion and what was important to me in that discussion was that many members of the Security Council called for full implementation of the Minsk Agreements. This is also in line with our position. And this is something which I reiterated. Of course, there were other statements like the US delegation in its typical way tried to deliver absolutely one-sided story about what is going on in Ukraine. But, unfortunately, it is something we expect in the Security Council, even though the United States, Washington keep telling us they want to help bring this crisis in Ukraine to resolution. But, unfortunately, that is never reflected in the Security Council. Other than that I think it was something which was useful to us - to give members of the Council the information about what has happened.
Q: Does Moscow think there needs to be dialogue now? I mean do you need dialogue between two sides?
V.Churkin: We keep talking all the time. But of course it was decided that there is no point in having this Normandy meeting in Beijing which was tentatively agreed upon - Normandy format presidential meeting. But the dialogue is there. The main vehicle is the contact group which meets periodically in Minsk. The problem is that the Ukrainian side does not show much of an interest in implementing the Minsk Agreements. In the Minsk Agreements the key actually is paragraph 11 – it is very easy for you to reread that paragraph: constitution reform, special status for Donbass, Donetsk and Lugansk, and amnesty law. They don’t want to do that. They keep twisting the issues coming up with preconditions and things like that. We call upon all those who have influence on Kiev to make sure that they do what they are supposed to do. For that actually I don’t see why there is a particular need in high-level meetings, because it is very clear what needs to be done.
Q: Ambassador, someone voiced concern over buildup of the Russian military. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
V.Churkin: I don’t have specific information about what is happening. We do have strong military but instead of counting our military they should be bringing to an end the conflict in Donbass and stop shelling civilians in Donetsk and Lugansk – that is what they need to do.
Q: Is it the time to revisit the annexation of Crimea?
V.Churkin: Revisit it? It will never be revisited. The incorporation, the reunification of Crimea with Russia was done two years ago after a referendum which was conducted in Crimea. 93% of the population expressed their wish to rejoin Russia. This is what has happened.
Q: Are you worried this could escalate into open conflict between you and Ukraine?
V.Churkin: I hope the Ukrainians would be prudent enough to do everything to prevent an escalation. Unfortunately, one wonders about them, first of all, being prudent enough and, secondly, their being able to control some elements. As you know, there are some volunteer extremist battalions present in the east of the country. We have a concern about their ability to control their own people.
Q: Do you think this represents desire of the Ukrainians to get Crimea back?
V.Churkin: No, I think it represents the fact that there is chaos in Kiev. They don’t know what to do about Donetsk. The Minsk Agreements are very clear but they don’t have the political will to do what they are supposed to do. Instead of massing this political will, they are trying to distract attention to other things. And of course, their economic situation is dramatic, no political will for reforms as well. Unfortunately, they chose to keep escalating their own political situation. Sometimes they are doing what we have seen them do in Crimea - this attempted active sabotage. This is very unfortunate.