Statement by First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy at UNSC briefing on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine
At the outset, let me extend our deep and heartfelt condolences to the governments and people of Turkiye and Syria over a devastating earthquake that took place in these countries claiming numerous lives. Our rescue teams are already en route to Syria. We are also ready to extend the required assistance to our Turkish friends.
Today Security Council convenes again upon the initiative of some of our Western colleagues to discuss the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. Apparently, by raising this topic, they seek to cast a negative light over our actions in Ukraine, highlight the sufferings and hardships of civilians while disregarding what those people have been through in the past 9 years of Ukrainian shelling. But as the Ukrainian crisis progresses, it becomes more and more difficult for them to paint this picture black-and-white. It is increasingly obvious that the peaceful population of Ukraine would have long stopped to suffer, if the Kiev regime and its Western masters had had true interest in peace. Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett revealed lately that Washington and London curbed Ukrainians and did not let them negotiate a realistic peace deal one month after the start of the special military operation. Efforts in searching for a peace formula would surely be more effective if Ukrainian nationalists and neo-Nazis were not violating the international humanitarian law by using their people as a human shield. And of course, what looks particularly appalling is the attempts of the Kiev regime and collective West to ignore the criminal offenses that UAF and nationalist battalions have been committing for years against the people of Donbas and other territories that acceded to Russia after the referendums in September last year.
Evidence of IHL violations by Kiev and its targeted attacks against civil facilities is multiplying by the day. Thus, on 28 January American HIMARS was used to launch a precision strike against a hospital in Novoaydar of the Lugansk People’s Republic. This tragedy killed 14 people. 24 more suffered wounds of varying degree of severity. Of course, no reaction from Western states to this crime ever followed. When this happened, they were busy advertising the tragedies in Dnepropetrovsk and then in Kramatorsk, where due to placement of Ukrainian air defense systems in residential quarters, apartment buildings were hit by rockets.
Deliberate shelling of the functioning civil medical facilities and premeditated murder of civilians are serious war crimes of the Kiev regime and its Western sponsors.
Worst of all, artillery strikes by the Kiev regime against the DPR and LPR, as well as the liberated areas of Kherson and Zaporozhye regions cause deaths of children. In 2022, UAF military activities inflicted 4574 casualties, including 153 children. 279 children were wounded.
Ukrainian armed forces did not just target civil facilities, but the infrastructure that is meant to support and ensure the wellbeing of children. The Kiev regime launches strikes that devastate schools and children’s hospitals. Here are the examples of just past week. On 10 January, secondary school #66 of Donetsk suffered a strong shelling that damaged its indoor premises. Earlier in mid-January, the UAF fired at the Donetsk republican center for protection of maternity and childhood. We keep sending regular updates on the crimes committed by the UAF (in particular killing and maiming, as well as attacks on schools and hospitals) to the Office of Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict V.Gamba.
The lack of reaction of the US and NATO (who supply Kiev with long-range artillery and rocket launchers) to this egregious trampling upon the international humanitarian law confirms once again that they are directly involved in this conflict and complicit in all Kiev’s crimes. We will speak more of this and the way it impacts the peace prospects in Ukraine, at a separate UNSC meeting that we have requested for 8 February.
This cynicism and selective blindness of Western states in the face of the uncontested facts clearly manifested itself during our Arria meeting on 20 January that focused on the shelling of Donbas by Ukrainian forces. You had the opportunity to see and listen to those who live or rather survive there from day to day under Ukrainian fire that did not start in February last year, but much earlier, more than eight years ago. You heard the address of Ms.Maya Pirogova, whose daughter was killed by one of such ruthless strikes that Ukrainian armed forces launched from US-made long-range weapon systems. What were the words that you said while looking her in the eye? Only the worn-out mantra about the "Russian propaganda”! For our former Western partners, the people of Donbas do not exist. So they try to bury in oblivion everything that has happened to Donbas since 2014. But you will not succeed at this.
We state again that we keep scrupulous record of all facts of the criminal outrage that Ukrainian armed forces commit under Western supervision. None of those will go unpunished.
Taking into account the huge scale of Kiev’s crimes, it becomes increasingly harder for international human rights organizations who at least pretend to be objective, to disregard these offenses. The recent report of Human Rights Watch, who can hardly be suspected of sympathy for Russia, confirmed what we had repeatedly said in this chamber. Ukraine systematically uses a banned type of antipersonnel mines, PFM-1 Lepestok, against the people of Donbas.
As stated in the report, these mines are planted remotely, they can be scattered by aircraft, rockets, and artillery, or when fired from specialized vehicles or launchers. Lepestoks are not visible on the ground and easily maim adults, and also children who may mistake them for toys. We demonstrated replicas of this barbarous contraption on several occasions. On 2 February there was another incident in Donetsk when a teen stepped on a Lepestok mine, bringing the total to 89 such tragic cases.
Artillery shelling on Kiev’s side also pose a threat to civilian population residing in Russia’s border regions. UAF strikes have caused destruction of 700 houses in Belgorod, Kursk, and Bryansk regions of Russia, killed and injured dozens of civilians. Western media either knowingly downplay this aspect or serve it as a deserved retribution for Ukraine. One should not, however, rank together civilian casualties caused by ignorant or clearly criminal actions of Ukrainian air defense units and Ukraine’s targeted shelling of civilian infrastructure that is not situated in any vicinity to military facilities.
Ukrainian troops also target infrastructure that is relevant for the entire Europe. Lately, they Ukrainian missile hit “Druzhba” pipeline in the Bryansk region of Russia. The strike created a huge crater, but by a lucky coincidence, the oil pipe itself received no serious damage. We remind that it is the world’s largest pipeline systems that is still used to deliver not only Russian, but also Kazakh oil to Europe. European politicians and taxpayers should think carefully in whose interests their authorities act when they cover up for such crimes of the Kiev regime.
Russia responsibly approaches the issue of POWs. We strictly adhere to our obligations under the IHL, which imply, among other things, a humane treatment of prisoners. Same cannot be said about Ukrainian nationalists, who torture Russian POWs, the gruesome footage of which goes viral on the web. Besides, Ukrainian POWs themselves, as well as their relatives quite often share horrifying insights about the conditions and treatment by senior officers of Ukrainian armed forces. In this battle «until the last Ukrainian” people are used as cannon fodder. This is so much the case that mothers and wives of Ukrainian soldiers would address the Russian Ombudsperson for human rights and request to keep their loved ones on our territory so they are not made to fight again.
Quite indicatively, as soon as international NGOs dare to speak out about clear violations of the IHL by Ukraine, they become intimidated, or even persecuted right away. We remember too well how Amnesty International was exemplarily punished after revealing the truth about tortures of Russian POWs.
Whenever Ukraine is mentioned, many UN member states develop a strong feeling of double standards not only because of the unflattering situations that I mentioned. Think of it, the 2022 UN Emergency Humanitarian Response Plan for Ukraine was funded by 79,2 % thanks to the generosity of Western arms suppliers. This is way more than the humanitarian funding of the long-suffering people of Afghanistan (62 %), and Syria (47 %) that suffered directly from the doings of the US-led international coalition.
This two-faced position of major donors does not cease to surprise us. Contributions to assistance for development, as well as contributions to regular budgets of UN agencies are going down. Whereas the money that is raised to buy Ukraine more weapons is record setting.
Everyone who is sober-minded can see that there are hostilities not just between Russia and Ukraine, but between Russia and the collective NATO-led West that uses Ukraine as a tool in its geopolitical “crusade” against Russia. This crusade began at least 9 years ago when after an unconstitutional coup in Kiev in 2014, they started to build at our doorstep a hostile neo-Nazi Russophobic “wasp nest” that almost immediately commenced a deadly attack on the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine. The population of the Crimea and Donbas raised their voices against it right away.
Over the past few months, we saw it clearly that anti-Russian projects had remained in the minds of our former Western partners. Most ardent of the “new Europeans” resolved to deal away with the “Russian question” for good. How else can we explain the following words of Anna Fotyga, ECR MEP from Poland, in an article in “Euractiv”? “There are no such things as Russian gas, oil, aluminium, coal, uranium, diamonds, grain, forests, gold, etc. All such resources are Tatar, Bashkir, Siberian, Karelian, Oirat, Circassian, Buryat, Sakha, Ural, Kuban, Nogai, etc. We should discuss the prospects for the creation of free and independent states in the post-Russian space. The rupture of the Russian Federation will bring unquestionable benefits”. One could regard those words as nonsense and a position of just one Polish representative, if the same ideas were not also circulating in Warsaw, Riga, Tallinn, Vilnius, and some other Eastern European capitals. And also if the European Parliament, EU’s central mechanism, were not hosting events to promote dissolution of Russia. What do you think we should hold of this, what conclusions should we draw?
Or how should we react to the fact that recently, during the live broadcast at one of state-owned French TV channels, the inveterate liars of TV hosts fantasized about cleansing the Crimea from ethnic Russians after its future liberation? In their speculations, they arrived at a conclusion that in order to keep the peninsula within Ukraine, one would need to raise the issue of repatriation of the entire Crimean population or its major part, because almost all Crimeans are loyal to Russia and support President Putin. So it turns out that when it comes to Russia, the exquisite European audience does not frown at the idea of ethnic cleansings. By the way, ethnic cleansings is what German Nazis plotted against my country back in the day. And now, their descendants in violation on the Constitution of their homeland that repented of its terrible sins against humanity, are again sending tanks to Ukraine to kill Russians, like it was in 1941. And some Ukrainian public activists call to make those who support Russians wear a red star sign when in public. How are we supposed to react to all this and what other historic reminiscence is it expected to cause?
The answer is obvious. Like 80 years ago, an artful enemy that wants to destroy our country and our culture mounted a challenge to us. In its hands, Ukraine is but a tool. So we have to stop the Kiev regime for the sake of our future and the future of our children. And also for the sake of Ukrainian children, whose fathers the felonious Zelensky regime is sending to a fratricidal war and sure death as “cannon fodder”. It is our duty to stop the Nazi criminals from Kiev, who are entangled in lies. The majority of Ukrainians do understand that. Or how else can we explain the fact that out of 8 million refugees who left Ukraine, almost 3 million headed to Russia? Taking into account those who earlier moved to Russia from Ukraine, seized by the Maidan madness, there are more than 5 million of them. And this is not the forced displacement or deportation that our former Western partners talk about, not willing to believe that millions of former citizens of Ukraine, oppressed by the Kiev regime, have chosen a future with Russia.
We also believe in this future and will bring it closer by all available means. Preferably peaceful, and our position on this is well known. But if the collective West continues to supply weapons to Ukraine and postpone peace prospects for that country, then all goals of our military operation will be achieved by military means. No matter how our former Western partners and their Ukrainian adherers try to impede this.