Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine
We would like to express our appreciation and gratitude to the delegation of the UAE for its Presidency in March.
We thank the Secretary-General, Ms.Rosemary DiCarlo and Mr.Martin Griffiths for their briefings. We also listened to President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky.
We would like to thank Martin Griffiths for his visit to Moscow during which, as we can judge, he had very useful meetings and discussions. He knows better than anyone else what efforts Russia is undertaking every single day to organize humanitarian corridors. However, Ukraine consistently avoids fulfilling its commitments even within the arrangements reached with the help of international mediators.
I am not going to overload you with figures since our Defense Ministry publishes daily reports. I will merely say that we have managed to save 123,686 people from Mariupol, who moved east, without any participation from Ukraine. In all, over 602,000 people, including more than 119,000 children have been evacuated to Russia since the start of the Special Military Operation (SMO). Contrary to the assertions of our Western partners, these people were not coerced to leave or abducted. Numerous video clips, accessible in the social media, show that they made this decision voluntarily.
I would like to take advantage of the fact that the President of Ukraine is participating virtually in our meeting and address him personally.
We will leave to your conscience all unsubstantiated sweeping accusations addressed to the Russian military. Those accusations are not backed by any evidence of eyewitnesses, of which we spoke in detail at yesterday’s press conference.
We all remember well the moment you were elected president of Ukraine in 2019. Many people pinned their hopes on you taking office, because you campaigned with the promise of establishing peace and ending the war in Donbass. The Russian-speaking people, whose rights you pledged to protect, had faith in you. It seemed that a historical injustice when, following the Maidan coup in 2014, Ukraine was put on track to become an evil “Anti-Russia” would finally be history.
However, those hopes were in vain. You began contemptuously calling the residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics “species,” echoing your predecessor in office who issued threats to the effect that the children of Donetsk and Lugansk “would rot in the basements”, and urging them to leave for Russia. And now you are up in arms against your native Russian language, having introduced a “language inquisition” in a country where Russian is the native language to at least 40 per cent of the population.
Today, explosions can be heard almost all over Ukraine, not just in eastern Ukraine, where they have been heard for eight years now. And they can be heard precisely because, unfortunately, there is no other way left to bring peace to Donbas after you and your subordinates vehemently refused to comply with the Minsk Agreements and prepared to resolve the problem of Donbas by force back in March. During our special operation, we have found many secret orders that testify to this.
We are being told that there cannot be any Nazis in Ukraine. However, we know for sure that they not only are there but, unfortunately, they are running the show. How can it be otherwise if Ukraine’s national heroes are Nazi accomplices Bandera and Shukevich who bear responsibility not only for the Holocaust, but also for killing hundreds of thousands of civilians among Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, and Jews? You prefer to turn a blind eye to the Ukrainian neo-Nazis pretending that they simply do not exist.
Unfortunately, they do exist, and even more regrettably, there are many, with many young people among them. How do we know? They are not concealing it with Nazi tattoos, decorating their clothing with swastikas and other Nazi insignias, and using the Nazi salute to greet each other. They have never tried to conceal themselves on social media. They have thoroughly infiltrated Aidar, the Right Sector and Azov battalions. This would not have been such an issue had they not acted the way Nazis do and perpetrated killings the Nazi way. This was not just about Russian soldiers who were taken prisoner – they would go online to boast about the suffering inflicted on them, but also about their fellow countrymen. Your neo-Nazis and radicals act with unrivalled cruelty when dealing with civilians, use them as human shields and deploy heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems near residential buildings.
We have heard huge amounts of lies about Russian military today. We have hundreds if not thousands of video recordings of people who are ready to testify to cruelty of Ukrainian nationalists. Let me read just some of them. Those are tough stories, but you have to hear them.
Natalia Kudinova: “The city mayor was one of the first to flee, and later the Ukrainian authorities lied to us that Russia did not let people use the humanitarian corridors. The Azov nationalist battalion held women and children in basements and robbed civilians at checkpoints. A grandmother with her grandchildren said that Azov fighters did not let them out of the basement and would shoot to kill anyone taking a step towards the exit. Women and girls were stripped naked at an Azov checkpoint, with fighters taking their gold and money, including the last they had”.
Valentina Borisenkova said that the Ukrainian military chased a woman with her two children out of their single-family home and used it as a firing position to fire mortars. “She left with tears in her eyes… chased from her own house, with two children… by these boys… with blue armbands (Ukraine’s insignia).”
Marina said she was tortured in a Ukraine Security Service basement in Kramatorsk: “They tied me to a sewer pipe. When they learned that I was Russian, they started beating me, electrocuting me, raping, and threatened bringing my underage daughter to do the same with her.”
Olga Shapovalova: “We left Mariupol, Mangush, on March 25. The Ukrainian Armed Forces put their firing positions in between residential buildings and in school courtyards, hiding behind civilians. A Ukrainian tank kept driving around the drama theatre and shooting in all directions, targeting residential buildings. Tanks were parked near school numbers 69, 68 and 5. I saw this with my own eyes.”
Olga Suportkina: “Mariupol’s School No. 15. The Ukrainian Armed Forces took up positions there on February 25 and left on March 7. They fired from there. Our building was hit by gunfire. On March 8 and 9 there was heavy shelling targeting residential housing. When asked why they were doing this, the Ukrainian service personnel replied that they would stay there until they completely eradicate the Russian spirit. They started looting right away, pillaging all the shops. DPR troops helped us get out and took us to Mangush.”
There are many more heartbreaking stories about Russians and Ukrainians tortured to death with swastikas branded on their chests, about people killed by plunderers and criminals who were given arms, about peaceful population and foreigners, whose deaths Ukrainian leadership tries to blame on Russian military – contrary to all facts. I said it already and I say it again now – thinking that Russian military are capable of doing what they are accused of is vile.
On top of that, there are outright criminal theatre shows with peaceful Ukrainians killed by their own radicals in order to, in the best Goebbels traditions, blame the Russian army for their deaths. They were killed in the areas the Russian troops left following the peace talks in Istanbul, which gave hope to so many people. As it turns out now, they should not have left it. I am talking primarily about Bucha.
I am aware that you saw the dead bodies and heard the stories. However, you only saw what they wanted to show you. You can't fail to see blatant inconsistencies in the version of the events being promoted by the Ukrainian and Western media, including the fact that there were no dead bodies in the town after the Russian troops left, as evidenced by a number of videos. There are records where Ukrainian radicals shot those who wear white armbands, that is, civilians. A close look at the video demonstrated today would reveal that people lying on the ground wore white armbands, meaning that they were civilians. And the fact that the bodies in the video do not look like they have been lying out there in the street for three or four days (according to the sensational and scientifically absurd information provided by The New York Times, the bodies have been lying there since March 20). Only complete amateurs or our Western partners who do not want to listen to anything and have long called everything that’s black white and vice versa, could fall for this fake show.
Unfortunately, those countries don’t care in the slightest about Ukraine. For them, it is and was just a pawn in their geopolitical ploy against Russia, which they will easily sacrifice. For now, though, they will try to prolong this conflict by supplying weapons and ammunition. To reiterate, and most importantly, how did we come to the cruelty that we see from these nationalists, for example, from the Azov battalion? And you, in an interview with the US media, bashfully defend them, saying that “they are what they are.”
I just want you to give it a thought and really hope that you will find a solution to this situation, because it depends only on you. We didn’t come to you for Ukrainian land. We came to bring a long-awaited peace to a bleeding Donbas. Not a truce, but a genuine lasting peace. To do so, it is necessary to root out the cruelty that I mentioned and remove that Nazi malignant tumour that is devouring Ukraine and would have eventually begun to devour Russia.
We will achieve this goal, hopefully sooner rather than later. There may be no other outcome. We avoid shelling civilian targets in order to save as many civilian lives as possible, and this is why we are not advancing as fast as many expected. We are not acting like the Americans and their allies in Iraq or Syria who wiped out entire cities. They did not care about them, while we do, because those people are our close ones. The radicals, however, have nothing to lose. They can’t care less about civilians. They are ready to take all the people of Ukraine down with them into the grave, as the provocation in Bucha clearly showed.
Mr Zelensky, don't let the West achieve its goals. Make the right decisions for your country, because the West is prepared to fight in Ukraine to the last Ukrainian. Make this decision now. After all, you are well aware of the actual situation at the front. It may be too late after that.
Right of reply:
This does not bring us closer to adjourning this meeting, but since the topic under discussion is of utmost importance, I must say a few words about the cause of this meeting. We had no opportunity to say this yesterday, because we were not allowed to convene a separate Council meeting on the issue. Unfortunately, our colleagues did their best to bust the initiative for having a meeting yesterday. It gave us another clear demonstration of what “rules-based order” looks like.
Let me once again turn to the events in Bucha that gave the reason for convening this meeting and also for drawing far-reaching conclusions that many of you already made. All divisions of Russian armed forces fully withdrew from Bucha as a good will gesture back on 30 March – the next day after a round of Russian-Ukrainian talks that had taken place in Turkey. Russian Defense Ministry published a corresponding notification on its official web resources on the same day.
Over the time that the town was controlled by Russian forces, no local resident suffered from any violent action. People moved freely around the town and had access to mobile networks. Besides, Russian military servicemen delivered and distributed 452 tons of humanitarian aid among civilians in towns of the Kiev Region. There is evidence confirming this. City exits were not blocked, residents could freely leave in the northern direction. At the same time, Ukrainian troops were shelling the southern borders of Bucha (including residential quarters) round the clock from large-caliber artillery and multiple rocket launchers.
Once the Russian troops withdrew, the mayor of Bucha Anatoliy Fedoruk in his video-address of 31 March spoke of it as of a heroic liberation of the town by Ukrainian forces. We will leave this slyness to his conscience and focus on him confirming the fact: on 31 March there were no Russian troops in Bucha. What’s more, the mayor never mentioned any locals shot in the streets with their hands tied. Can you believe a mayor could not notice bodies of, as they say, 280 dead people in the streets?
On 1 April member of Bucha’s township council Katerina Ukraintseva in a 2-minute-long video repeatedly warned her fellow-residents that Ukrainian Security Service had entered the town and was cleansing it. She asked everyone to be very cautious. An almost 8-minute-long video clip is accessible on the Internet that informs about an announced cleansing of Bucha by Ukrainian National Police on 2 April. This video does not show any dead bodies of civilians in the streets. In addition to that, the video features Ukraine’s National Guard interviewing the local residents, none of whom mentions any corpses or mass shootings. One of Ukrainian news portals also published a heads-up about an upcoming cleansing of Bucha from Russia’s accomplices. They deleted the publication afterwards, but web users managed to save it.
So-called evidence of crimes of Russian forces in Bucha popped up only on 3 April – four days into the presence of Ukrainian armed forces there.
Once again, without any proofs and only based on “presumption of guilt”, Russian military are being inculpated for some atrocities. Of course, we could not fail to notice how rapidly footage of Ukrainian journalists was picked up by Western politicians and famous rights advocates who pretend to be impartial and unbiased.
While doing so, they purposefully ignore obvious discrepancies of the narrative promoted by Ukraine and the West. Had those bodies indeed lain in the open for several days, they would have definitely shown certain signs that are well known to forensic experts. Our Western colleagues however seem to be little worried by that. Otherwise the New York Times would not have gone as far as to say that corpses had lain in the streets since 20 March. If this had been the case, can you imagine what they would have turned into?
The footage disseminated by the Ukrainians shows that some bodies had specific insignia on their upper arms – a white stripe. Civilians wore such stripes after the arrival of Russian military.
One of the video clips that Ukrainian radicals uploaded on the web, contains a distinctly audible call to shoot all those who wear no blue stripes. This video of Bucha’s cleansing was uploaded by a leader of one of so-called territorial battalions, among which Ukrainian authorities distributed weapons without requesting any accountability.
Besides, Katerina Ukraintseva whom I already mentioned admitted in an interview to Russian platform “Meduza” that she never saw Russian troops shoot people. Later in that same interview she confirmed that Ukrainian military were to blame for all major violations. Of course, our Ukrainian and Western colleagues easily forsake those details.
President Zelensky, however, already argues that all that clearly staged footage from Bucha allegedly gives Ukrainians a moral right to an “uncivilized response”. One can only guess what that means judging by what Ukrainian radicals did in the east of the country. Evidence of their crimes is abundant and truly shocking. Unfortunately, it seems that Kiev’s experts who specialize in disinformation and staged provocations are not going to stop at that.
Russian Defense Ministry reported that according to verified data, members of 72-nd Ukrainian Center for Information and Psychological Operations filmed another staged footage of civilians, allegedly killed by Russian troops in order to have it disseminated via Western media. This was done on 4 April in the town of Moshchun (23 kilometers northwest from Kiev). Ukrainian special services also conducted such operations in Sumy and some other cities.
In conclusion, let me address our Western colleagues. We understand too well what you are doing when you play this Ukrainian card and propel hysterical anti-Russian propaganda campaign by the day. That is why we think further appalling provocations (like the one in Bucha) will take place with further attempts to besmirch Russian soldiers, present them as sadists, murderers and rapists. As I already said, this is a vile thing to think. You do not care that latest technology makes it possible to make any video. Today we saw footage presented by the Ukrainian side. The Internet is already full of refutes of that. According to those disproofs, what we were shown had been filmed in another place at another time, and with other people.
One last point – to my American colleague, who declared a “crusade” to exclude Russia from the Human Rights Council. Let me underscore that this is said by a representative of a country that strongly criticized the HRC only 3 years ago because it had dared to condemn the methods and acts of US soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. As we know, the United States quitted the HRC. I hope that our colleagues here at the UN will not yield to manipulations and play up to Washington in its extremely dangerous ventures.