Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC on the order of the Security Council meeting on Ukraine
Our delegation objects to the virtual participation of the President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky in today's meeting.
We would like to explain in detail the essence of our objection. We are not against the participation of the President of Ukraine or his representative in the meeting. I repeat once again for the record and for those who try to distort our position: we do not object to the participation of the President of Ukraine in the meeting. However, he should participate in person, i.e. be physically present in the Security Council Chamber. This is not our whim but the rules that regulate the work of the Council. There is no politics involved here, it is a purely procedural issue. In addition, it is also a matter of respect for the members of the Council, and for the Council as a body.
Indeed, when the world faced the coronavirus pandemic, we collectively decided that we would continue our work in a virtual format. At the same time, by our common decision all of our meetings via video link were informal. Later, when we were back in the Chamber after the acute phase of the pandemic was over, we decided that the Council would resume regular working procedures. This means that we went back to following the provisional rules of procedure. That is, if we, the members of the Security Council, are sitting in the Chamber then other member states participating under Rule 37 must also be present in the Chamber.
Mr. Vladimir Zelensky has twice addressed the Council by video link. Each time we expressed our objection to this in writing. But the Western members of the Security Council, including the President, then explained and assured us in writing that this was an exception that would not create a precedent. A precedent is not created after the first or second time. However, the third time is no longer an exception.
We would like to remind those members of the Council who have led or will lead the work if the Security Council that we and they have already seen such cases. We can somehow understand that a few exceptions were made when we just returned to the hall after the pandemic, when leaders of some countries still were not able to travel. However, this year, during our February presidency along other presidencies high-level representatives of Member States were denied the possibility to speak under rule 37 by video link.
So why should there be double standards in the Security Council on this issue? Why are other heads of state or ministers of other states on the agenda of the Security Council discriminated against? Are they worse than Vladimir Zelensky? This reminds us of the situation with international humanitarian aid, which poured in streams into Ukraine, and everyone forgot about helping people in other parts of the world. Or Europe's "double standards" in relation to migrants, when refugees from Ukraine are given a green light on all European borders, and refugees from Africa, the Middle East and other regions face securely locked fences.
We cannot agree to make an exception for one country and one person for the third time. The meeting was announced a week in advance, and the President of Ukraine had every opportunity to come to New York. We constantly observe Vladimir Zelensky meeting foreign delegations, travelling around the country and even posing for fashion magazines. In addition, it was stated that he would lead the Ukrainian delegation at the 77th session of the General Assembly, which can only be done in person. This gives us reason to believe that there are no restrictions on the movement of the president. We also know that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba actively travels internationally. Moreover, we see today in the Chamber the UN Secretary General A. Guterres, who visited Ukraine, went to different cities there.
I repeat once again that we are not questioning the participation of the head of the Ukrainian state in the meeting, but the legitimacy of his speech via video link. Please put this issue to a procedural vote.
After the vote
We regret that the Council members voted against complying with the rules of its work. We could probably understand the logic of the Western patrons of Kiev, who, in order to cover up the crimes of the regime, are ready to sacrifice not only all Ukrainians but also the work of the UN Security Council. However, we are extremely disappointed that other members, who, by coming to the Council, assume the responsibility to abide by its rules and protect them, today have contributed to the erosion of its foundations and practices. We call on all UN member states to pay attention to the current situation.
Despite our position, we will listen to Mr. Vladimir Zelensky because we also have something to tell him. We hope that he will be present at today's meeting until the very end. We will see if Mr. Vladimir Zelensky will be able to come to the 77th session of the UN General Assembly as the head of the Ukrainian delegation, as the representative of Albania claimed.