Statement by Mr. Evgeniy Zagaynov, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Security Council on Fifth report of the Secretary-General on the threat posed by ISIL (Da’esh) to international peace and security and the range of United Nations efforts in support of Member States in countering the threat (S/2017/467)
We should like to extend our gratitude to Mr. Feltman for his detailed and comprehensive briefing.
Given present-day conditions, as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is morphing through the changing situation on the ground, the SecretaryGeneral’s strategic analysis is especially important. The group’s significant losses notwithstanding, members of ISIL are managing to put up a military resistance in Mosul and are holding their grip on Raqqa. The group continues to spread its influence in various parts of the world. Against this backdrop, we see an ongoing reorganization of its structures and an adaptation to new conditions in the conduct of hostilities. The leadership of ISIL is curbing expenditures, funnelling money for the procurement of weapons and making regional units self-sufficient. ISIL continues to use the heinous and inhumane tactic of terrorist attacks. Yesterday, in Iran, tragedy struck once again. We extend our solidarity to the people and the Government of Iran and other States that have suffered at the hands of terrorists.
The Secretary-General’s latest report (S/2017/467) on resolution 2253 (2015) contains an overall conclusion that terrorist revenue is gradually dwindling on the whole. At first glance, it might appear that Security Council mechanisms to combat terrorism financing are finally beginning to function at full capacity. However, such an assessment would be far too optimistic. Unfortunately, not all States conscientiously uphold their obligations in this sphere. Clearly, it is past time to stiffen the Security Council’s sanctions mechanisms with a focus on the full financial and economic asphyxiation of ISIL.
For the moment, the reduction or curbing of revenue, as was repeatedly stressed by the SecretaryGeneral in the report, is chiefly attributable to military losses incurred by terrorists, and yet the sources of the expansion of ISIL’s budget have not significantly changed with time. Key sources — trade in hydrocarbons and extortion from populations in the territories held by the terrorists — remain. According to the information at our disposal, ISIL’s proceeds from the sale of oil has dropped to between $12 million and $20 million per month, which is nearly three times less than what we saw in 2015. The achievement of such results has been possible thanks to the effective actions of the Russian Air Force during the counter-terrorism campaign in Syria. According to recent independent information, some 4,000 tankers have been destroyed, which has put 206 oil- and gas-producing facilities out of commission.
We have previously drawn the attention of the sponsors of the report to the need to avoid selectivity in assessing developments in the context of the struggle against ISIL in Syria and Iraq. For reasons unknown, the document fails to refer to the repeated liberation of Palmyra, but highlights the fact that Manbij was liberated, which happened way back in the summer of 2016. The report further fails to mention information about civilian casualties during the operations of the so-called coalition to liberate Mosul.
We are closely tracking new sources of financing for ISIL and sharing the relevant information with partners abroad and specialized organizations, particularly the Financial Action Task Force. For example, recently ISIL is increasingly resorting to human organ trafficking. It is also participating in the transport of refugees to Europe and engaging in kidnapping for ransom.
In the struggle against terrorism financing, it is important to work in regional formats, including the Eurasian Group on Combating Money-Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism. We welcome the fact that the role of this organization is stressed in the report.
Terrorists have mastered all the nuances of Internet and social-network use for the recruitment of fighters and for the financing of their operations. We concur with the conclusions of the report, namely, that the recent terrorist attacks in Europe and Russia were the result of the large-scale proliferation of ISIL propaganda via online platforms. In a number of cases, instructions for carrying out terrorist attacks were delivered through mobile applications that used encryption.
An important step in countering terrorist propaganda was the adoption of resolution 2354 (2017), which set forth a comprehensive international framework in this realm. We consider the framework to be a solid foundation for further expansion of the Council’s mechanisms in countering terrorist ideology, including by strengthening sanctions and law enforcement measures.
Despite the rivalry among the pro-Al-Qaida structures and the resistance of State bodies, ISIL continues to penetrate deep into the African continent. Recently, the level of the terrorist threat has risen in South-East Asia, including as a result of the active work of ISIL’s propaganda centres. We agree with the assessment of the ISIL threat in northern Afghanistan, contained in the report. Despite the enduring impressive international presence in the country, we believe it is premature to refer to the allegedly weakened influence of Afghan factions of ISIL. This is especially true in the light of the recent tragic events in Kabul.
Evidently, the threat of the radicalization of the population, the actions of lone-wolf fighters, the creation of sleeper cells and full operational branches of large terrorist organizations have affected every State. It will be possible to stop the territorial spread of ISIL is possible only if we establish a single counter-terrorist front that defends our common values enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.