Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Right of reply by Mr.Dmitry Polyanskiy, First Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Security Council meeting initiated by Ukraine, on the incident in the Strait of Kerch

 Many interesting things have been said, and I have decided to share our views on them after all, although of course a lot of them are not worth discussing and a lot are very predictable.

First of all, we once again feel we were absolutely justified in our proposal to hold a meeting under a different agenda item, since people seem to be talking about anything they feel like — annexation, occupation, aggression. I was astonished to learn that we have occupied and even annexed the Sea of Azov.

That is news to us. But as far as the main theme is concerned, nobody really said much. Except Ambassador Yelchenko, who did indeed torture the facts. But I will return to that later. The only question is why the Ukrainians, who had been familiar with the regime for passage through the Kerch Strait and using it without any problems, suddenly carried out an act of clear provocation and risked the lives of their own sailors.

Nobody has tried to answer that question or even mention it. It could therefore be perceived by as giving Ukraine carte blanche to continue such provocations and foment a situation that could pose a threat to everyone in the region. And going on what Mr. Yelchenko said, Ukraine got the message.

I would like to correct some errors on the part of some of the speakers. Ms. DiCarlo somehow confused Crimea and the Minsk agreements in a very odd way. I hope that she has actually read the Minsk agreements. She is no doubt well aware that there is not a word in them about Crimea. She also urged respect for the sovereignty of Ukraine, but only Ukraine. Surely, though, the Russian Federation’s sovereignty should be respected as well. At least we assume that is what she believes. Mrs. Haley also assumed that Crimea is part of the Minsk agreements, and I got the impression, at least I thought I heard, that the Minsk agreements apparently extend even to the Sea of Azov too. I am sorry to say that such ignorance is shocking.

We devoted most of a previous meeting (see S/PV.8270), to an analysis of the Minsk agreements by Mr. Nebenzia, our Permanent Representative, who went through them from the first to the last paragraph. And in spite of that we have to listen to this egregious stuff. With regard to the incident itself there are many questions. An investigation is under way, of course, and we will certainly share its conclusions. I do not want to anticipate anything about what is still a hot topic, but I can speak to two points that have not been mentioned but that are clearly significant and relevant to analysis of the incident.

First, on board one of the vessels were two employees of Ukraine’s security services who admitted that they were on a special assignment and were supposed to act in exactly that way. We will tell the Council about that too. In another small but relatively important detail, the Ukrainians violated our border in a place that was Russian territory before 2014, if we decided to talk about what is Crimea and what is not. But the Ukrainians refused a pilot and made a treacherous approach to the Kerch Strait from the south. That is an act of gross provocation and it is hard even to imagine any other way of putting it, and yet some of those here have knowingly covered it up.

It is also worth pointing out that their actions, including in supporting Ukraine’s version of what happened, are already exacerbating the situation, including in eastern Ukraine. As our colleagues from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have told us, the Ukrainian military has been drawing up Buk S-300 surface-to-air missile systems and Grad and Uragan multiple rocket launchers at the line of contact. The disengagement of forces in Stanytsia Luhanska is blocked and soldiers have infiltrated disengagement areas in Zolote and Petrovske. Units of the Ukrainian seventy-second brigade have captured the village of Rozsadky near Svitlodarsk. Those are real things that testify to the fact that the Minsk agreements are being violated.

Everything else, and in any case a lot of what has been said here today, has absolutely nothing to do with that, and those facts have been completely ignored by the speakers here today. Although Crimea is not on the Security Council’s agenda, as long as the subject has been brought up, I would also like to say that whether anyone likes it or not, the question of where Crimea belongs has long ago been closed for both us and for Crimeans. No sanctions or restrictions will change our decision.

That issue was closed after the Crimeans voted to reunite with Russia in a free referendum based on a nation’s right to self-determination. Many people ask if we knew then what awaited us in the frenzied rush of the West to launch its anti-Russian geopolitical “project Ukraine” that I mentioned earlier this morning. Of course we knew. We had no illusions. Does Russia regret what has happened? Absolutely not.

Furthermore, I want to say that an overwhelming majority of Russians are proud of it, since if we had not taken a stand to protect the Crimeans, today they would be dying from the Ukrainian army’s bullets and shells, just as the Russian-speaking residents of Donbas are dying. They are dying merely because they want to speak Russian, teach their children in Russian and honour those who liberated Ukraine from the fascists rather than those who collaborated with them.

While I did not mention it in my previous statement on the correct topic for this meeting, I should also point out that Kyiv’s decisions have given free rein to Ukraine’s radical nationalists. They have been particularly active in the past few days. And in particular, nobody has mentioned the fact that there was another attack on the Russian Embassy in Kyiv while the police did nothing. A diplomatic car was set on fire last night. The radicals continue to threaten to storm our diplomatic headquarters. As I understand it, we should expect no response on this from anyone. Does anyone think that is normal?

We demand that Ukraine provide full and unconditional immunity to Russia’s embassies and general consulates in Ukraine, in accordance with the norms of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, and that it hold those responsible for the attacks accountable. Since you represent China, Mr. President, I would like to remind you of a well-known saying of Confucius about the fact that it is very difficult to find a black cat in a dark room, especially when it is not there. That is exactly what the members here are doing, discussing an imaginary act of aggression by Russia without talking about the real reason for having this meeting today. But the problem is right under their noses and can be solved extremely easily, as I have already said. An order from Washington could resolve it in the space of 10 minutes.

Unfortunately, judging by our Ukrainian colleague’s statement, I have to conclude that they have been considerably cheered and intend to continue in their chosen provocative spirit, and hence the fantasies we have been hearing about our plans to seize Mariupol. In conclusion, I want to issue a warning that Kyiv’s policy of provoking a conflict with Russia conducted in coordination with the United States and the European Union is fraught with exceedingly serious consequences.

We will put a firm stop to any infringement on the sovereignty and security of the Russian Federation, including in the waters of the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. I hope that is clear to everyone.