Statement by Ambassador Vitaly I. Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Security Council meeting on the Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and securityJune 8, 2016
First of all, I should like to underscore the importance of the full implementation of resolution 2253 (2015) in order to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Al-Qaida and associated groups such as Jabhat Al-Nusra.
Strategic reports of the Secretary-General to implement this resolution are meant to shape an objective understanding of the terrorist threat and assess the contributions of Member States in combating this global threat. Unfortunately, the current report of the Secretary-General (S/2015/501) not meet this goal. Furthermore, the document is based on one-sided data and therefore does not give a true picture of the situation. For example, in paragraph 4 of the report, it is stated that ISIL’s military setbacks are directly linked to some efforts of the international coalition forces. The impression one gets is that the report specifically highlights the role of the coalition led by the United States, whereas the efforts of other States, which are often more effective, are intentionally ignored. This kind of philosophy is fundamentally wrong, as it does not contribute to the shaping of the global anti-terrorist coalition whose establishment President Putin of Russia has called for during the seventieth session of the General Assembly.
It is important to note that significant damage to capacity of ISIL was inflicted by the Russian air force. We deem it unacceptable to say nothing about that or about the efforts of the Syrian armed forces, which selflessly are on the front lines of the fight against the terrorist threat. It is difficult to understand that the report says nothing about the role of the Russian air force or the important expulsion of terrorists from Palmyra and the restoration, with the help of the Russian armed forces and experts, of peaceful conditions there, including the demining of that historic citadel.
We would also like to ask the authors of the report why it does not reflect the data that was provided on the results of the efforts of the Russian air force in Syria, including lists of eliminated terrorist leaders, which were specifically requested from us by the monitoring group of the anti-terrorist sanctions committees. What then was the purpose of asking for this information?
In this connection, we think that it is very important to convey to the Members of the United Nations an objective picture of the Russian anti-terrorist operation in Syria. We are convinced that its effectiveness is based on the fact that we are acting with the legitimate consent of the Syrian Government. As a result of the efforts of the Russian air force in Syria, this operation was a turning point in destroying the resource base of the terrorists. We destroyed thousands of support facilities with stockpiles of ammunition and military equipment, material resources, oil and fuel supplies and explosives. We destroyed more than 200 oil production, transit and refining facilities, as well as more than 2,000 transport modalities used to smuggle oil to Turkey. The most recent example was the destruction, just several days ago, of four sites for the illegal production of oil located in the Raqqa and Homs provinces, which are controlled by ISIL fighters.
We would like to underscore that without the consolidation of efforts in combating terrorism, the threat will remain significant. The situation in Syria remains a source of considerable concern. What is important is to quickly separate Jabhat Al-Nusra from the Syrian opposition. It is essential for those who are fighting in Syria to clearly state whether they are with the terrorists or against them. We should not delay this process, because by delaying it we are only strengthening terrorist groups.
As a consequence, Jabhat Al-Nusra, Ahrar Al-Sham, Jaish Al-Islam and Jaish Al-Fatah have practically become connected structures, and some entities have violated the ceasefire regime. These kinds of threatening developments are occurring due to external interference by forces that are trying to undermine Russian-American cooperation. As a result, the Syrian armed forces are combating large-scale offensives on the part of the jihadists, who are moving across the Syrian-Turkish border. A clear illustration is the situation in Aleppo, where terrorists are continuing, with external support, to seize new territories. The Kurdish neighbourhood of Sheikh Maqsoud has been the target of daily artillery shelling by Al-Nusra. We have found that Al-Nusra are being helped by other armed groups that are considered moderate. As a result of double standard politics, Al-Nusra thinks it can act without any consequences and is now deploying its forces in civilian neighbourhoods and using civilians as human shield.
For several months, we have been assured that the link between the terrorists and the moderate opposition would be broken. But we are not seeing any results. Consequently, violent confrontation continues to increase, while the terrorist threat, as the events of the past year have shown, continues to intensify and to extend far beyond the Syrian border.
Ending external support for terrorists requires an immediate solution. The Syrian-Turkish border needs to be closed immediately. In addition to what I said earlier, border crossings, which the international community designated for humanitarian deliveries, are often being used for criminal ends. There is irrefutable documentary evidence of that process taking place in the border districts, but that proof is being disregarded. In that regard, we also continue to be surprised by the inexplicable lack of action on the part of some of our international partners.
One is amazed at the ongoing disregard for Turkey’s role in the financing of, and the provision of resources and recruits for, terrorist operations in Syria. The report has been scrubbed of even indirect links to information provided by Russian on the financing of ISIL.
The regular flow of information about supplies from Turkish territory into Syria of components for the production of chemical weapons for the needs of terrorists requires particular attention. Unfortunately, that issue is persistently hushed up, and a corresponding Russian initiative to strengthen the fight against the threat of chemical terrorism is being slowed down for no apparent reason.
Another example is the information we have provided to the Security Council on supplies to ISIL of components for the production of improvised explosive devices (IED). Our analysis had shown that those substances were produced in Turkey and were provided to Syria. Our analysis of the IED components found in Syria and Iraq shows that they were either manufactured in Turkey or delivered to that country without the right of re-export.
Once again, it behooves us to pay particular attention to actions by Turkey and to such disturbing elements in its regional policy as its unauthorized intrusion on the territory of Syria and Iraq. There are reports that Turkey is building extended concrete walls on Syrian territory close to its borders. We request the Secretariat to find out about that and to report back to the Council.
As before, we believe that resolution 2253 (2015) includes a very important list of measures to strengthen the regime and put an end to the illegal supplies being channeled to ISIL and groups related to it, as well as to strengthen the United Nations monitoring and sanctions regime. As we see it, currently, the goal is to further strengthen that very important resolution. An objective, balanced and fair report of the Secretary-General, pursuant to that resolution, would be a very important contribution to that cause.