Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC open debate on women, peace, and security
Mme. Minister, we welcome you as President of the Council at the meeting on a very relevant and important issue – Women, Peace, and Security. We thank Secretary-General for his insights, and we followed closely and with much interest all statements delivered by today’s briefers.
The proposed topic for discussion, "Keeping the promises: the role of regional organizations in implementing the women and peace and security agenda in the face of political turmoil and seizures of power by force" appears rather vague, but to a large extent, it can be projected on the situation in Ukraine.
This state started to deteriorate and collapse back in February 2014, when an anti-constitutional coup d’état took place in Kiev. Western states actively supported the seizure of power by radical nationalist forces and the toppling of Ukraine’s legitimate President V. Yanukovych. After this overturn, forces came to power in Kiev, who embarked on forceful Ukrainization, eradication of everything Russian, repressions against political opponents, suppression of dissident views, bans of opposition parties, and shutdown of opposition TV channels. At the same time, under Western support, they were presenting Ukraine as a “showcase of democracy and diversity of opinions”. The Kiev authorities waged a civil war on Donbas, where Russian and Russian-speaking population did not recognize the coup and stood for keeping their right to live at peace with Russia and speak their mother tongue. But the regime wanted to drown all those who dared to disagree in blood. On 2 May 2014, Ukrainian nationalists burnt alive participants of a peaceful protest in the Odessa Trade Union House, among whom there were women. On 9 May 2014, Azov battalion (part of which recently surrendered at the Azovstal steel works) shot at peaceful protesters in Mariupol. On 17 August 2014, Ukrainian fighter aircraft launched a strike on Lugansk Regional Administration building, where people died again. Then Kiev spent the next 8 years bombarding peaceful cities of Donbas and maintaining a total blockade of the region. All in all, 3300 civilians including 152 children died in Donbas over that time.
Since then, Ukraine has lived under strict censorship. Mass Media and online resources that the authorities find unwanted get shut down, independent journalists face persecution. Opposition political parties become banned. There have been dozens of cases when Ukrainian special services either detained or abducted representatives of mass media and television because of their professional activities, including women-correspondents Valentina Solovyova, Olga Yurieva, Alina Eprimyan, Evgenia Koroleva, Elizaveta Khramtsova, Natalia Kalysheva, Elena Makarova, Ksenia Kolchina, Alexandra Cherepnina, Ekaterina Voronina, Maria Knyazeva, Tamara Nersesyan, Anna Kurbatova, and Natalia Goncharova. The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine has records of dozens of attacks on media workers – no data available for 2021, 77 cases in 2020, 75 – in 2019, 86 – in 2018. In 2015, editor-in-chief of newspaper “Neteshinskiy Vestnik” Olga Moroz was killed in the Khmelnitsky Region of Ukraine. Before she was murdered, she had worked on a story on illegal forest cutting.
Lately, rights advocate and anti-fascist activist Elena Berezhnaya was arrested by the SBU. Now she is facing absurd and far-fetched treason charges. We raised this blatant case in a letter that we circulated as a UNSC document.
Before Russian special military operation started, in 2015, Ukrainian special services at least twice crushed the website of the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers of Ukraine.
The population of Donbas today lives under constant indiscriminate and deliberate shelling by the UAF, who i.a. use artillery and ammunition that Kiev had received from its Western sponsors. NATO states under the lead of the US, who deliver weaponry and ammunition to Ukraine, are directly involved in the killing and maiming of women in Donbas.
Take a recent flagrant episode – unprecedented shelling of Donetsk by rocket systems and artillery on 13 June. Ukrainian forces fired over 350 rockets and artillery rounds on peaceful Donetsk. In particular, they fired French cluster munitions (that were said to have been eliminated in 2016) from US-delivered artillery systems. As a matter of fact, this was a barbaric terrorist attack that killed 6 people including a child and a woman, and injured 33 more. The total number of casualties in Donbas since the start of the SMO is even higher. The maternity hospital of Donetsk also got under shelling. At that moment, there were three newborns in ICUs on the fifth floor of the building. One of them was evacuated to the basement, because this baby no longer needed artificial oxygen supply. But the others had to stay. It was a happy coincidence that these babies, as well as doctors and other medical personnel of the hospital stayed alive. Yet no one in the West condemned this horrendous crime.
Do you remember the intensity of emotion that surrounded the info provocation around Russia’s alleged attack on maternity hospital in Mariupol that the Ukrainian side and Western journalists tried to organize in March this year? This ignominious provocation was debunked, but pseudo advocates of women’s rights in the West still recall this story about the Mariupol hospital from time to time. Will you recall the maternity hospital in Donetsk that unlike the one in Mariupol had not been turned into a gun post?
Our Western colleagues have no chance to succeed at exploiting the topic of sexual violence in Ukraine, allegedly committed by Russian troops. All you have is fakes and lies, and not a single fact or piece of evidence. But even in telling lies, you will never be able to outmatch former Ukrainian Ombudsperson for Human Rights L.Denisova. Everyone was puzzled at her unclear focus on the numerous details of sexual crimes and rape of children in the occupied territories that could not be confirmed by evidence. As she later admitted, she had been telling blatant lies to the whole world to convince Western partners of the need to deliver weapons to Ukraine as soon as possible. Such an unusual ombudsperson she was.
Currently, work is underway at Ukrainian territories that have been liberated from nationalists, as well as in Donetsk and Lugansk to discover facts or other evidence related to crimes (including sexual crimes) committed by Ukrainian formations. This is being done by investigative bodies of Russia, DPR and LPR, as well as Inter-Agency Commission for the search of missing persons and discovery of burials of individuals who died in the areas of an armed conflict in Donbas.
Ukraine’s armed forces still use civilians as a human shield, deploy heavy weaponry in urban settings and residential quarters while covering up with peaceful population. As Presidential Adviser to the President of Ukraine Mr. Podolyak revealed to The New York Times recently, the Ukrainian military will use the methodology of urban combat. It means that they will keep using civilians as human shields and destroy civilian infrastructure. Russian forces do their best to save civilian lives, make agreements to open humanitarian corridors and have people evacuated from combat zones. Saving lives of peaceful population of Ukraine, Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics is our overriding priority.
As for the general aspects of WPS agenda, let me emphasize the importance of taking extra measures to promote the role of women in social and economic development of states in situations of armed conflict or post-conflict settlement. We need to ensure economic empowerment of women, create favorable conditions for development of women’s entrepreneurship, expand women’s access to material and financial resources, markets, technology and intellectual property.
Unfortunately, our Western partners, who baselessly claim to be the champions of WPS agenda, unjustifiably downplay the issue of expanding women’s participation in social and economic cooperation as a crucial element of global governance.
Eradication of poverty, development of women, and ensuring broader access to education and decent work must become leading tracks of international cooperation. Imposing unilateral coercive measures on states is unacceptable. It is clear that such steps affect the interests of women in social and economic areas in the first place.
The task of eradicating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and intolerance to women and individuals of African and Asian descent remains very relevant, especially for Western states. These countries for centuries adhered to colonial policies, which struck their roots very deep and by now have transformed to neo-colonialism. This must be put an end to. And women are to play the leading role on this process.