Remarks to the Press by Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN, following UNSC meeting on Syria
Q.: Ambassador, does the resoluton mean that Turkey will also stop the operation in Afrin?
A.: I will not interpter it. You read the resolution and interpret it yourself. Everyone wants to interpret it the way he or she interprets. You heard what the Syrian Ambassador said on that.
Q.: What about Eastern Ghouta, Ambassador? Do you think that operation against armed groups will stop in Eastern Ghouta, is it covered in the resolution?
A.: It is clearly said in the resolution that the terrorists are not exempted. The reason why we discussed this resolution so long, why the process was so extensive and exhausting, because we wanted to make sure that it is more meaningful then it was before because by the decree of the Security Council you cannot istall a ceasefire. Ceasefire is a painstaking and laborious process on the ground. We wanted to make sure that it is reflected there.
Q.: Can you tell us, those groups in Eastern Ghouta, do you believe they are covered?
A.: I cannot tell you because I do not know exactly who these groups are.
Q.: What about the timing, does it mean that the ceasefire has to be implemented immediately by all the parties?
A.: It says “without delay”. But I want to say one more thing why we negotiated for so long on that resolution. We wanted to make sure that it would not be used as a pretext for military action. Because we heard some worrying comments in recent days by US officials. We said it clearly that we would not let anyone interpret this resolution as a pretext for military action.
Q.: What about the situation in the north of Syria, Afrin? If the Turkish are carrying out the operation?
A.: We said that it is not only about Eastern Ghouta because we have to attend to all Syria. In the resolution it is said “”throughout Syria”. We were saying both in our statement and it is in the resolution that the dire humanitarian situation in other areas should also be addressed.
Q.: When does the ceasefire start?
A.: We were insisting that the ceasefire should be reached by the parties who are on the ground. It cannnot be installed by a decree of the Security Council, with all the respect to this reputable body. We were insisting that it should be in the resolution and we finally think it is. Now, of course, we prefer the ceasefire to start immediately but let’s be realistic. We would like to encourage the parties to work for it, to engage in the full and comprehensive implementation.
Q.: How would you like to see commitments by the parties, do you want them to announce it openly?
A.: There is no word “commitment” in the resolution because I think that in this situation it is vague. You know, they could commit and then not implement it. These are two different things. The parties have to work and achieve it.
Q.: Ambassador, do you think that the humanitarian access should not be just limited to Eastern Ghouta but should be also in Afrin?
A.: Everywhere, throughout Syria.