Remarks to the press by Ambassador V.Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, following the Security Council consultations on Colombia
V.Churkin: As the President of the Security Council I have some press elements for you.
The members of the Security Council heard from Jean Arnault, Special Representative of the Secretary General to Colombia on the work of the UN Mission since its inception last month.
The members of the Council noted the outcome of the plebiscite on October 2. The members of the Council welcomed the Parties continuing commitment to uphold the ceasefire and noted the request of the Parties on October 7 for the UN Mission to monitor and verify the bilateral ceasefire; in light of that the members of the Council looked forward to the recommendations of the Secretary General on the mandate of the Mission.
The members of the Council encouraged the Parties and all political actors to maintain momentum in the peace process and reiterated their full support for those efforts. The members of the Council agreed to keep the Mission’s mandate under review in light of those efforts and looked forward to the Secretary General’s appropriate recommendations.
The members of the Council expressed their full support for SRSG Arnault in his work.
Those are the press elements which were agreed by the members of the Council in the process of those discussions. Any questions on Colombia?
Now let me make some comments in my national capacity. As you know an important announcement was made in Moscow this morning that the airstrikes by the Russian Aerospace Forces and Syrian Air forces in the Aleppo area were halted at 7 AM Greenwich mean time (GMT) today, on October 18.
We believe that under these circumstances, it's extremely important for Member States with influence on the armed opposition groups in Eastern Aleppo and beyond to intensify efforts to separate expeditiously all moderate opposition forces from terrorist entities designated by the Security Council.
We believe also that it's extremely important under these circumstances for all parties to prevent material and financial support from reaching individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with terrorist groups designated by the Security Council, and we strongly insist that any party stop fighting in collaboration with them, separate from them and formally subscribe to the CoH.
And we have prepared a draft press statement to that effect. We hope it will be approved by members of the Council. But at this point, let me emphasize, this is the position of the Russian Federation.
Q: Are you giving a deadline to the opposition or Nusra Front to do what you said yesterday?
V.Churkin: My understanding is that the announcement of this humanitarian pause for the 20th of October was made for them to prepare, that they will have an opportunity to leave the city. So now, the airstrikes were halted and halted in advance of the beginning of this humanitarian pause. But everything should be set in place, all the arrangements should be ready by 8 O'clock on October 20th for the humanitarian pause to be taken advantage of, in terms of the armed people who would like to leave the city, or the civilians who would like to leave the city. And of course, if the humanitarians can take this opportunity to provide some humanitarian assistance to the people of Eastern Aleppo, that also would be welcome.
Q: Do you expect any resolution to update the mandate on Colombia?
V.Churkin: Not necessarily. We expect two letters from the Secretary-General. One letter we were told is going to come very soon on the role of UN Mission there in monitoring ceasefire and then there is going to be another letter when new arrangements are finalized – some corrections are made to the previous arrangements which were not approved during the referendum and then we would expect new recommendations from the Secretary-General. They might come in a separate letter or in a report he is going to give to the Security Council in December and then we will see what we need to do. It may well be that a short response from the Security Council will be sufficient or there may be a need for something else but it is too early to say.
Q: Given that Russia has halted the airstrikes earlier than planned, how long do you plan to keep that in place?
V.Churkin: I have no authority to describe that or to talk about that. The word which was used in the statement which was made today by our Minister of Defense is very strong. It talks about stopping, halting, ceasing. It's a rather strong definition of our intentions but, certainly, in Syria everything depends on the circumstances. And I think much will depend on whether the things I described in my remarks today is something which we believe would be extremely important now, that will play an important role in the future developments.
Q: Heard from rebel groups, said they are not interested in safe passage out of Aleppo. What makes you think that in coming days something could happen on the ground that could shift that?
V.Churkin: First of all, the work will commence tomorrow. Yesterday, I expressed the hope that it might start on the 17th, apparently there was a slight shift in scheduling so now they are supposed to get down to business tomorrow of trying, specifically, to separate on the map, at least, the so-called moderate groups and Jabhat al Nusra. I hope that this kind of a work and most importantly the signal which particularly those countries who participated in the meeting in Lausanne are supposed to give to the so-called moderate opposition will make them make the right decision. Either they move out of the city or they separate from Nusra and recommit themselves to COH regime. But something needs to be done about Nusra. The moderates need to be separated from them and then Nusra has to leave the city or it will be confronted by some unpleasant consequences.
Q: Did these countries give you or set any date? Any timeframe?
V.Churkin: They promised to start right away and they promised, at least some of them, to participate in this work in Geneva of separation of the moderate opposition from Nusra. So I hope they will continue acting in the spirit of the meeting in Lausanne.
Q: Earlier the UN said they didn't have all guarantees needed for aid deliveries. Has Moscow given guarantees?
V.Churkin: I may be not aware of some detailed discussions. Our embassy in Damascus is in constant hourly discussion and communication with the UN humanitarians there. I know that they say that for a full-fledged operation they need 48 hours at least. But now that the bombing was halted at 7 AM GMT, hopefully they will have time to prepare better and take advantage of those 8 hours. But I think what we're trying to do now is more than just one humanitarian pause. It's an effort to try to find a way for a radical turn for the better for the people of Eastern Aleppo.