Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing on humanitarian situation in Ukraine
Since our former Western partners cowardly and shamefully prevented a briefer from Donbas from speaking today, you will have to listen to a statement that is going to take longer than usual.
Our discussion of humanitarian aspects of the Ukrainian crisis in the Security Council always follows one and the same scenario. Western countries accentuate devastation of civilian infrastructure of Ukraine while ignoring the fact that if the Kiev regime observed norms of international humanitarian law, in particular those pertaining to non-placement of heavy equipment and air defense systems in residential quarters, civilians would not be in the impact zone, because our forces only launch high-precision strikes against energy and transportation infrastructure of Ukraine. This is done in order to weaken Ukraine’s military potential, which the collective West seeks to strengthen by delivering more and more weapons.
We have hosted many meetings where we showed what huge profits Western military corporations receive from those arms deliveries. Of course, they are not interested in a cessation of hostilities. Politicians eagerly serve their interests. As recently as yesterday, representative of the White House John Kirby when answering a question about the Chinese peace plan said that if armed action in Ukraine stops, it will “violate the UN Charter”. Before that, at the beginning of March, Secretary of Ukraine’s National Defense and Security Council Danilov complained that the number of people in his country who spoke out in favor of peace talks with Russia was growing. In other words, the Kiev regime is saddened that Ukrainians want peace with our country. Well, no comments needed, as the saying goes. It is important that developing countries understand the real goals of Kiev and its Western partners when the latter try to mobilize them in support of further anti-Russian initiatives of the General Assembly.
Thereby, Western states do not mention systematic and targeted attacks of the UAF on civil facilities in Donbas that have been going on for 9 years by now. That is why, we believe it is our task to “complete the picture” and so we will focus exactly on what our Western colleagues are not going to say.
Our proposed briefer, Ms. Daria Morozova, whose speech our former Western partners were so afraid of, planned to give a retrospective of the devastating intra-Ukrainian conflict and the ensuing humanitarian crisis provoked by the anti-constitutional coup in Kiev in February 2014. As a native of Donbas, it would have been more convenient for her to do this, but she asked us to share some of the points from the speech that she had prepared.
Mass peaceful protests in large Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine were a natural response to the anti-constitutional actions of the new government. People took to the streets hoping to be heard. The only requirement they had was a meeting with representatives of Kiev.
Instead, in violation of Article 17 of the Constitution of Ukraine, which prohibits the use of the armed forces of Ukraine and illegal armed formations in order for restricting the rights and freedoms of citizens, the Kiev regime sent army to suppress peaceful rallies using aircraft, artillery and weapons of mass lethal action.
The Kiev regime justified its war crimes by conducting the so-called anti-terrorist operation, the decree on which was signed on April 14, 2014 by a person illegally endowed with constitutional presidential powers. At the same time, neither the DPR nor the LPR were officially recognized as terrorist organizations throughout the entire conflict in southeastern Ukraine and, accordingly, could not fall under international criteria for defining them as such.
Back in 2014, according to a conclusion of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the conflict in Ukraine was recognized as internal, that is, a civil war.
Apart from open hostilities, Kiev started to suppress the population by means of socio-economic restrictions. The region was subjected to an economic blockade — all payments of social benefits stopped, including pensions, servicing of bank accounts of entities and individuals was suspended; a food blockade — logistics of deliveries of food, medicines, and basic items was undermined; a transportation blockade; an information blockade — real information about the events in Donbas was massively substituted with nationalist propaganda. Besides, Ukraine suspended operation of all state bodies, organs and organizations in the region. Thus the people of Donbas were deprived of an opportunity to receive basic state services, social benefits, passports and vital records. It means they could nor perform a single action to confirm their civil status.
In December 2014 and March 2017, socio-economic restrictions against the region were enshrined at the legislative level. Thus, Kiev legalized decisions against its own population.
These steps led to irreparable consequences. Thus, since the beginning of the conflict and as of February 24, 2022, 4,374 people, including 91 children, had died as a result of armed aggression by Ukraine against the DPR. Almost 8,000 civilians got injuries of varying severity, including 323 children, at least 27 of them were disabled.
By the beginning of the special military operation, more than 23,000 private residential houses and about 5,000 apartment buildings had been destroyed by the fire of the Ukrainian armed formations. Separate settlements have been literally wiped off the face of the earth. About 850 educational facilities, 350 healthcare facilities and 800 housing and utility service facilities which provided consumers of the Donetsk Republic with gas, water, heat and electricity were destroyed.
Only in the period from 2017 to February 17, 2022, more than 339,000 pieces of ammunition of various calibers were fired across the territory of the DPR.
The international community did not give an objective reaction to the actions of the representatives of Ukraine aimed at sabotaging the Minsk process. Over the years, through the fault of Kiev, not a single point of the Minsk Protocol and the Package of Measures has been implemented. As the official representative of the DPR in the Minsk Group on humanitarian issues, Daria Morozova assures that representatives of Kiev were not aimed at reaching any agreements. Moreover, they sabotaged any progress that could stop the bloodshed. From myself I will add: in this they were encouraged by their Western patrons.
Given the absence of peaceful goals in the negotiation process, at the beginning of 2022, tensions grew along the line of contact, and open provocations from Kiev were observed. Only in the week that preceded the announcement of the mass evacuation in the Donbas, Ukrainian armed formations fired almost a hundred shells which were prohibited by the Minsk Agreements on the territory of the DPR in violation of the ceasefire. Besides, Ukrainian soldiers received a direct order from Zaluzhny, commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, to open fire at their own discretion. Drones carrying improvised explosive devices were used to launch strikes against civilians. Before that, Ukraine had started to reinforce its troops on the front not only with manpower, but also with WMDs.
Kiev was preparing for a full-scale military operation in the Donbas, which was scheduled for early March 2022. This became clear after the escalation and sharp increase in the military activity of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
With the beginning of the SMO, as the cities of Donbas are liberated, new facts of mass war crimes by the Ukrainian authorities started to surface, and their number increases as the front line advances. Thus, numerous testimonies of civilians were recorded, confirming that the armed formations of Ukraine prevented civilians from evacuating from combat zones. People were used as a human shield, for example, in the cities of Mariupol, Volnovakha, Soledar. During the retreat, the Ukrainian army purposefully destroyed civilian infrastructure facilities and residential buildings that had survived the fighting.
Over one year of the SMO, more than 15.5 thousand facts of firing by the Armed Forces of Ukraine were recorded in the DPR alone (within the borders before the beginning of the SMO). In more than 15,000 cases therefrom heavy weapons were used. The enemy fired more than 100,000 ammunition of various calibers in the DPR, including 39 missiles from Tochka-U, over 220 HIMARS missiles, more than 250 BM-27 Uragan missiles and about 13,000 122-mm MLRS missiles, as well as 21,500 155-mm shells.
Since July 2022, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been using anti-personnel mines “Lepestok” against the civilian population of the Republic. With their help, Ukraine remotely plants mines in densely populated residential sector of the DPR. In more than 90 cases civilians were hit by a Lepestok blast, including 9 children. One of the injured died in the hospital. Many have been diagnosed with traumatic limb amputation.
In its attempts to provoke a humanitarian catastrophe in the region, Kiev commits terrorist attacks and provocations at life supporting facilities of Donbas. In particular, they hit water supply and energy infrastructure. As a result of such terrorist attacks, the flow of water to the territory of the Republic from the main artery, the Seversky Donets - Donbas Canal, was completely stopped. In this regard, today in most cities of the DPR, centralized water supply follows a schedule and is provided once every three days for several hours. Service water is supplied. People have to buy drinking water or receive it in the form of humanitarian aid.
Massive facts of torture and execution of prisoners have been recoded in Ukraine. In the territories controlled by Kiev, civilians are subjected to political persecution and repression for ideological reasons by the security services.
Acting with particular cynicism, Ukraine not only violated all existing provisions and norms of international humanitarian law, but also demonstrated a disregard for the fundamental principles of humanity, humanism and mercy. Moreover, both residents of the People's Republics of Donbas and citizens who, prior to the start of the SMO lived in the territories controlled by Kiev experienced the weight of neo-Nazi hatred.
I repeat: what I just (it was part of the briefing that Daria Morozova was supposed to deliver) was in fact a “direct speech” of the people of Donbas, whom the West carefully ignores, and whom the special military operation was started to save.
On our part, I will note once again that overt the past month we once again could see the inhumane terrorist nature of the Kiev regime. On 2 March Ukrainian armed formations undertook a terrorist outing in the Bryansk Region of Russia. They attacked a vehicle that was taking three children to school, murdered the driver and wounded 11-year-old boy named Fedor. Nevertheless, he climbed out, then helped the two first-grade schoolgirls out of the vehicle and started to run away to the nearby woodline together with them to shelter from the terrorists. Though wounded, he behaved as a real man, which cannot be said about the Ukrainian fighters who started to shoot after the children as they were running to the woods in order to not leave any eyewitnesses. This is exactly how Ukrainian nationalist battalions fire at the Russian-speaking people of Donbas and try to pass this off as Russian crimes. Our competent bodies have accumulated a considerable bulk of such evidence. It was a planned, deliberate attack on civilians in villages where there were no military facilities. In other words, this was a real terrorist attack. Its perpetrators are members of a mythical “Russian volunteer corps”, which is a subdivision of the “foreign legion” of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and acts on orders from the military leadership of Ukraine. Zelensky’s regime even tried to disown this sabotage – so blatant and repulsive this crime looks. However, the leader of the group said that this sabotage had been coordinated with the Kiev regime and carried out with its direct assistance.
By the way, this individual is a well-known (including in Europe), neo-Nazi and racist who is banned from entering the EU. It is not surprising that, like other people with similar views, he felt at ease in Ukraine and committed his crimes with impunity with the approval of the Kiev leadership. It is not very clear what the Kiev authorities are trying to achieve with such cold-blooded murders of children. Do they believe it will increase the level of Western support? If the West is willing to support a regime that commits such egregious acts, then there is probably no crime that the West would not be willing to cover up in its maniacal and futile quest to defeat Russia on the battlefield.
In general, we are getting more and more evidence that Western states are directly involved in the conflict, not only through pumping Kiev with weapons, but also through the direct participation of their military specialists.
For example, John McIntyre, a former American soldier who enlisted in the so-called UAF “foreign legion” and nationalist battalion “Carpathian Sich”, gave revealing testimony to Russian law enforcement agencies. The documents, maps and other information that he handed over confirm that the Armed Forces of Ukraine directly coordinate actions on the battlefield with employees of the US military and intelligence bodies.
These testimonies will underpin a legal assessment of the degree of involvement and complicity of foreign officials in the crimes of the Kiev regime against the civilian population. J. McIntyre also spoke about the horrendous torture of POWs by Ukrainian formations. Our opponents, who vividly imagine some “war crimes of Russia”, will simply ignore this and other evidence. However, Ukrainian and Western sadists and criminals will not go unpunished. An international public tribunal is already operating in Russia to collect and document testimonies. Preparations for the launch of a full-fledged international tribunal are underway. This mechanism should be based on international law rather than "rules-based order", where rules are defined by the collective West and tailored to meet its specific interests.
The incident with the shooting of children in the Bryansk region clearly demonstrates how Kiev treats minors. Against the backdrop of unprecedented and aggressive policy of Ukrainian authorities, heads of the DPR and LPR made a decision to evacuate civilians, including children, to the Russian Federation. This was decided even before the beginning of the special military operation. As of 278 February 2023, approximately 4.5 million people including 690,000 children have evacuated to Russia since the beginning of the SMO. An overwhelming majority of the evacuated children arrived together with their parents, legal guardians or caregivers. In this regard, we are surprised at the numerous speculations about alleged arrival in Russia of a large number of “unsupervised” children.
During bilateral contacts with the UN OHCHR, UNICEF and the ICRC, Russia provides reliable information on the measures taken to prevent violations of international humanitarian law against children. In order to stop speculation on this topic which has become a popular subject matter in the work of Kiev’s and Western propaganda makers, in early April we will organize an informal Arria-formula meeting of the Security Council on this topic.
Today many spoke about the Black Sea Grain Initiative or rather the package deal which may be extended for a 60-day term tomorrow. Before I conclude, I would like to provide a detailed account of our position on this.
On 22 July last year in Türkiye, 2 interconnected package agreements were signed. One was called to resolve humanitarian tasks to provide food to the starving across the globe. It was an agreement by Russia, Türkiye, and Ukraine that provided for food and fertilizer exports from three Black Sea ports. The other was an agreement between Russia and the UN Secretariat designed to promote export of Russian food and fertilizers to global markets. This second agreement is the one that our Western colleagues refused to notice point-blank, they made sure it was not even mentioned in UNSC drafts. And this second agreement is also the one that is not being implemented, not in the slightest.
We have, together with many others, a lot of questions to the implementation of the grain deal, which is called to facilitate grain exports from Ukrainian ports. The central one being why it has turned from humanitarian into a commercial? This is what relevant statistics clearly indicates. Its influence on global food prices is rather disputable. Besides, the poorest countries received not 65-66 per cent of deliveries as was said in this chamber today, but only approximately 3 per cent.
In particular, by UNCTAD data, despite the fact that food prices fell from the record highs of early 2022, they still fall short on the 2021 level by more than 20 %. Internal problems in developing states are exacerbating due to devaluation of national currencies against the strengthening of US dollar in 2022.
Who do you think benefits from this situation? The main beneficiaries of rising food prices and destabilizing food supply chains are the largest Western agricultural corporations. I mean the so-called "big four" (American "Archer Daniels Midland", "Bunge", and "Cargill", as well as the Dutch "Louis Dreyfus"), which account for 75% to 90% of the global trade turnover of agro-industrial complex. In 2022, Cargill alone boosted sales by 23% to $165 billion, reaching a record net profit of $5 billion. Bonuses for developing countries? Far from that.
By the way, one should not forget that due to the uncontrolled export of food from Ukraine, this country risks facing a real famine, as many experts directly say. And this has nothing to do with Russia.
Seizure of Ukrainian black earth farmlands by Western companies is another acute question that also goes in this vein. Over the past 10 years the number of such lands that have come under foreign control has exceeded 4 million hectares or 10% of all fertile land in Ukraine.
They try to hide those processes from the global community behind the traditional mantra about Russian aggression and blaming us for creating a food crisis and provoking a rise in food prices. This is, of course, an absolute lie. Even the European Parliament resolution "On the availability of fertilizers in the EU" of February 16 directly says that high prices in the agricultural sector have been seen over the past two years. However, this does not prevent Brussels from creating additional risks of food insecurity for the poorest countries by imposing further anti-Russian restrictions.
Russia-UN Memorandum is simply not working. Fact that it is beneficial to developing states is no concern to anybody. At the end of the day, the United Nations had to admit through Secretary-General’s Spokesperson that the UN has no levers to remove transactions with Russian agricultural sector from under Western sanctions. Let me stress once again: this situation has a negative impact not on Russia, for our economy is confidently developing in spite of our enemies, but on the developing world. And since all the concern of our Western colleagues about it is empty rhetoric, and persistent efforts of the UN Secretary-General bring no results, we won't put up with it either.
In this regard, according to provision H of the trilateral agreement, on 13 March we notified the Turkish and the Ukrainian sides that we will not object to renewal of the deal after 18 March for the next 60 days, i.e. until 18 May. Further steps will depend on what progress is going to be achieved in resolving the problems that we pointed at.
To conclude. If Washington, Brussels, and London truly want for Ukrainian food exports to continue through the humanitarian sea corridor in their interests, they have two months to exempt the entire chain of operations that service Russian agricultural exports from sanctions with the help of the United Nations. Otherwise we are not quite sure how the Secretary-General’s package concept in the framework of Istanbul Agreements is going to work.
Speaking of the warrant issued by the ICC that was mentioned earlier today. This a biased, politicized, and incompetent international judicial body once again proved its flawed nature. ICC is a puppet in the hands of the collective West that is always ready to deliver pseudo justice when ordered. What is the most cynical here is the fact that those legally void decisions were issued on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the US illegal invasion of Iraq, where the ICC had a jurisdiction but did nothing to bring the perpetrators to account. Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute, so the ICC does not have a jurisdiction with respect to Russia and its citizens. We consider all documents coming from this body as legally null and void. By all appearances, the ICC is indeed on the road to self-destruction, above all in terms of credibility and international recognition. We are not alone in this judgment. Allow me to give you a surprise 2018 quote from US National Security Advisor John Bolton: "We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, in every sense, the ICC no longer exists."