Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing on Ukraine
We have just heard some emotional statements, dogmatic assessments and far-reaching conclusions with regard to today’s signing of Executive Orders on recognition of People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk by the President of Russia. For now, I will disregard direct accusations addressed to our country, because at this point it is crucial to focus on how we can avoid a war and make Ukraine cease fire and provocations against Donetsk and Lugansk.
Statements of some our colleagues suggest that recognition of the LPR and DPR came out of the blue, without any reasons. Of course, this is not so. We must remind that the LPR and DPR declared independence from Ukraine back in 2014, but we recognized it only today, despite broad support for such step both in the republics and among the Russian society that could be seen at the very beginning.
Back then, our hopes that Ukraine’s Maidan regime will think better of it and stop casting threats and shell-fire upon the population of its eastern regions gained the upper hand. We repeatedly addressed Kiev and strongly urged to heed the wants and needs of the people of Donbas and Ukraine’s Russian-speaking population, respect their legitimate aspiration to speak their native language and have their children educated in it, as well as honor the memory of those who liberated their land from Nazis rather than those who fought side by side with them and had a hand in the killings of hundreds of thousand people during World War II.
Once Ukraine’s military ventures foundered upon the resolve of people from Donetsk and Lugansk to defend their soil, Minsk Agreements and the Package of Measures for their implementation were signed. Again, there was hope for peace and for prudence of the Maidan authorities that had scalded itself when craving to drown Donetsk and Lugansk in blood. In particular, lots of expectations were related to the election in 2019 of a new President of Ukraine who promised to bring peace to Donbas.
But unfortunately, those who counted on a peaceful stance of the new Ukrainian leaders were mistaken. Kiev got back to its belligerent rhetoric rather quickly and continued bombarding the peaceful population. What’s more, Kiev did its best to sabotage and ultimately ruin the Minsk Agreements. Most importantly, it rejected direct negotiations with Donetsk and Lugansk, even though this requirement was a central fundamental element of the Minsk Package. Over the recent days, we have heard Ukrainian leaders unambiguously confirm that they were not ready for such dialogue. Ukraine’s Permanent Representative to the UN also confirmed this at the Security Council meeting on the implementation of the Minsk Agreements that we called on 17 February. After that it became ultimately clear that Ukraine was not going to implement Minsk.
I would like to remind our UNSC colleagues that in all other conflicts, be it Libya, Syria or Yemen, we all demand and encourage that conflicting sides should engage in a direct dialogue, and only Ukraine is somehow an exception in this sense.
It clearly followed from some of today’s statements that a number of our colleagues were ready to bury the Minsk Agreements. However I remind that by the moment the Minsk Agreements were signed, the LPR and DPR had already proclaimed independence. The fact that Russia recognized this independence today makes no changes to the list of sides to the Minsk Agreements, because Russia is not a side thereto. We repeatedly stated that, so in this sense nothing has changed. Another point is that Ukraine, under the Western patronage, has long been openly sabotaging the Minsk Agreements that were supposed to start being implemented back in 2015. Now we see that many colleagues are willing to attest that the Minsk Agreements are dead, which is not true. Kiev still has to implement them. We remain open for a diplomatic solution, but we will not allow for another bloodbath in Donbas.
Unfortunately, we have to note the negative role that our Western colleagues under the lead of the United States played in this story. Instead of making Kiev implement its obligations, they openly nudged Ukraine, repeating their absolutely void mantra that allegedly it was Russia that did not comply with the Minsk Agreements – even though, as we repeatedly said, Russia was never a side to them. Besides, while propagating this baseless panic in the recent weeks around Russia’s alleged plans for an imminent invasion of Ukraine, our Western colleagues shamelessly pumped Ukraine with arms and instructors. In fact, they have been encouraging Ukraine that pulled 120,000 troops to the contact line, to embark on armed provocations against Donbas.
The West and Ukraine “blew a bubble” that could not help popping. This past weekend, Ukraine drastically intensified fire against residential areas of the LPR and DPR. Reportedly, up to 1,600 projectiles were launched, killing civilians. Several sabotage groups set foot in the republics and blew up or attempted to blow up critical infrastructure facilities. As I said, there were casualties among peaceful population, the LPR and DPR announced an all-out mobilization. Refugees streamed into Russia -- I emphasize that they streamed to Russia, and not to Ukraine -- over these days the number of evacuated women, elderly, and children has reached approximately 70,000. Russia is receiving them and creating conditions for their accommodation. Besides, several Russian populated areas located close to the border area were bombarded.
So it became obvious that Donbas was about to face another Ukraine’s military venture, as was the case in 2014 and 2015. We cannot let this happen. That is why the President of Russia heeded the opinions of members of Russian parliament and the Security Council of Russia. All the rest you know. A detailed address of our Head of State regarding the reasons for the adopted decision was broadcast by all leading global Media. Though we heard his words being blatantly distorted today in what regards the history and genesis of the crisis. It was even suggested that he had allegedly spoken about recovery of the Russian Empire.
I call on our Western colleagues to come to senses, put aside emotions and not make things worse. No one but you can deter Kiev’s militarist plans and make it stop shelling and provocations aimed against the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk that may have dire consequences in these new circumstances. According to the Agreements that were signed today and based on the requests of the republics, Russia’s Armed Forces will perform the functions of maintaining peace on the territories of LPR and DPR.
In conclusion let me say that in most of today’s statements, there was no room for more than 4 million people of Donbas. Ever since 2014, you seem to have crossed out their fates from your remarks, contemptuously dubbing them pro-Russian separatists. However they are only guilty of their wish to talk to the new authorities that had come to power after the illegal Maidan coup of 2014 and discuss how their rights would be observed.
In recent days, due to enhanced Ukrainian military activity at the contact line, lives of hundreds of thousand women, children, and elderly persons were again put at risk as in 2014 and 2015. What we were guided by when taking our decision was the desire to save those lives. This is more important than all threats of yours.