Statement by Ambassador Vassily A. Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Security Council on the Briefing by the Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
We are grateful to Mr. Angelino Alfano, Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Italy, for his substantive briefing on the work of the OSCE and the issues on its agenda.
We have always proceeded from the assumption that the work of the OSCE is particularly important to the European continent, and we have always supported strengthening European institutions and agreements on treaty and legal regimes in our shared security area. Russia is firmly committed to the Helsinki principles for relations between States and to political obligations undertaken in that regard.
Unfortunately, our calls for reasonable dialogue and practical implementation of the principles of equal and indivisible security in the West have so far gone unheeded. Some of our partners continue to prefer to see things in terms of the Cold War, portraying Russia as a threat to peace and security and forming closed clubs in which some countries’ security can come only at others’ expense. The result of all that has been that today the Euro-Atlantic architecture, of which the Charter of the United Nations and the Helsinki Final Act remain the cornerstones, is being severely tested. In these complex realities, it is more important than ever to strengthen multilateral cooperation, including through international organizations. That cooperation should be regular and multifaceted, and should cover every aspect of security.
It is the OSCE’s job to help to realize the purposes and principles of the United Nations in the context of its mandate and the area within its purview. We are ready to cooperate constructively with the Italian chairship of the OSCE and we share its desire to strengthen multilateralism for peace, security, stability and cooperation among the States of the region.
We have great expectations for the increased cooperation between the OSCE and the United Nations, especially considering what has already been achieved so far. We have especially noted the intensive collaboration between the OSCE secretariat’s Transnational Threats Department and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in combating the illegal trade in drugs and small arms, terrorism, organized crime, corruption and moneylaundering, as well as in countering human trafficking and illegal migration. An important area of cooperation between the two organizations is the implementation of the Security Council’s anti-terrorism resolutions, as well as in fighting the ideology of terrorism, as is provided for in resolution 2354 (2017).
In the area of international security information, the OSCE complements the global United Nations efforts to develop confidence-building measures through the use of information and communications technologies. We urge it to join efforts to develop and implement additional concrete confidence-building measures in the interests of providing cybersecurity.
Those platforms should not be used for unfounded accusations in that regard. We value cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE on the ground, as has occurred through its Mission in Kosovo, as well as their collaboration in the Geneva talks on Transcaucasia aimed at establishing a direct dialogue between Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We support the Italian chairship’s priority of continuing the OSCE’s efforts to assist in settling regional conflicts, and we are willing to cooperate with settlements for Transnistria and Nagorno Karabakh. We did not plan to talk specifically today about the situation in Ukraine outside the context of the OSCE’s activity. Ultimately, it is far from the only issue it is dealing with.
However, the statements by a number of representatives have compelled us to bring it up. In order to understand the reason for the deteriorating situation in Ukraine, we have to go back practically to the very beginning and recall how the problems in Ukraine first started. Our assessments of the origin and current situation of what I emphasize is an internal Ukrainian crisis do not coincide, to put it mildly.
Four years ago, with the direct involvement of the West, there was a coup d’état in Ukraine. Those who came to power decided to rid Ukraine of everything Russian and the Russian language that was native to millions of the country’s citizens, and to tie them to a paradigm of development to which they never consented and could not accept. There was absolutely no desire for reconciliation with the new authorities in Crimea or eastern Ukraine. Crimeans freely chose unification with Russia. In Donbas they were attacked with bullets and shells.
For the whole of those four years, Kyiv has not only been at war with its own citizens, it has persistently cultivated hatred for Russia in society and has permitted an orgy of nationalism and xenophobia, with the full connivance of our Western partners. Without Kyiv’s acknowledgement of the depravity of those policies, it is unlikely that anything will change for the better. The key to resolving the problems in Ukraine lies in the hands of the Ukrainians themselves, and only the Ukrainians. But Kyiv chose a convenient formula, dumping the blame for all of its problems and its unwillingness to engage in a dialogue with its own citizens on the infamous Russian aggression, which no one has been able to present evidence of. And of course the Western curators are hardly burning with a desire to put Kyiv on a constructive path.
Resolution 2202 (2015) enshrined the Minsk agreements as the basis for settling the situation in Ukraine. However, right from the beginning, Kyiv worked to sabotage the process and rewrite the agreements’ intentions, while the recently passed law on the so-called reintegration of Donbas has officially buried the Minsk package of measures. We can cite numerous other examples of the provocative actions of the Ukrainian authorities, such as their discriminatory language policy, the indulging of neo-Nazist movements, the countless violation of laws by its own citizens and the fomenting of hatred against Russia.
They turn a blind eye to the scandalous vandalism of Russian cultural centres; seizing Russian businesses has virtually become official policy; and they have created an atmosphere of totalitarian suppression of all opposition voices. Opposition journalists are being murdered, and I could continue this list. But the West prefers not to notice. The Kyiv authorities have been indulged by their sponsors and given carte blanche to say and do whatever they feel like. As long as that continues and Kyiv continues to undermine the Minsk agreements, as long as it refuses to talk directly to its own citizens while falsely presenting Russia as a party to the conflict but not themselves — alas, we can expect nothing good and no genuine settlement.
For our part, we are directly interested in normalizing the situation in Ukraine as soon as possible, and we are doing everything we can to facilitate that. But I would like to remind everyone, including those who spoke today, that before Ukraine can regain control of its borders, it must first comply with the political elements of the agreements, which are a condition for regaining that control, and not the other way around. That is what the Minsk agreements say. I advise those who are so fond of referring to them to read them again.
We support the efforts of the OSCE in the Trilateral Contact Group and the work of the Special Monitoring Mission in Donbas, which is acting as the international observer for the implementation by the parties — Kyiv, Donetsk and Luhansk — of the Minsk agreements, which are the sole basis for a settlement of the crisis in Ukraine, as affirmed in resolution 2202 (2015). We hope that the Italian chairship will continue to ensure the objectivity of the work of the Special Monitoring Mission, as well as focusing the OSCE’s representatives in the Contact Group on developing a direct dialogue among the parties to the conflict.
In conclusion, I would like to once again emphasize that Russia sees the OSCE as an important mechanism for building an equal and indivisible system of panEuropean security and wants to strengthen its role and prestige. We believe firmly that in order to increase the OSCE’s prestige, it is essential to define its priorities. The necessity for reform is long overdue. At issue are its adoption of a charter and rules for its executive structures’ operations, as well as introducing order and transparency in many other areas.
It is not an exaggeration to say that strengthening the OSCE and ensuring that it attains the current goal, as outlined in Astana in 2010, of establishing a free, democratic and indivisible security association from Vancouver to Vladivostok, is in the interests of all States Members of the United Nations. We urge it to concern itself not with imaginary threats but with real ones.
We all know what they are. Instead, we should think together about a renewed long-term international security system that would be built on the principles of respect for the interests of other countries, international law and the key role of the United Nations.