Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing on arms deliveries to Ukraine
At the outset, we thank USG Nakamitsu, Mr. Max Blumenthal, and Mr. Chay Bowes for their substantive briefings. To Mr.Sergey Radchenko I would suggest that he stop speaking cunningly of the “rules-based order”. This is not the UN Charter. This is a set of rules invented by a small group of states, mostly Western, which they try to pass off as something universal.
On a more general point, we must note that the first two briefers spoke matter-of-factly and shared much useful detail regarding weapons deliveries to Ukraine and its financing. However, Mr.Radchenko simply provided a historical overview. We do not quite understand on what criteria this particular briefer was invited today.
As we just heard from our briefers (though not all of them), threats that are posed by Western weapons deliveries to the Kiev regime continue to grow and multiply against the unstopping attempts of our former Western partners to shift the entire responsibility for what is happening in Ukraine to Russia.
The irregularities in their promoted narrative are obvious. Western states keep trying to make the global community forget that the crisis in Ukraine, as well as deliveries of Western weapons to Kiev, started long before the special military operation. Thanks to revelations that high-ranking politicians of that time make today, we know that Ukraine was being steadily pumped up with weapons and prepared for a war with Russia for years under the guise of the Minsk Agreements. Even though the agreements were endorsed by UNSC resolutions, neither Western states nor Kiev were going to implement them. In the meantime, the peaceful population in the Donbas were targeted by massive strikes. Of course, Russia could not watch this with indifference.
However today, Western sponsors of the Kiev regime are trying to present the case differently. They pretend they started to arm Ukraine only after the special military operation began – to fence off “Russian aggression”. Over the past 18 months, this plot has evolved into some sort of a private military company named “Ukraine”. NATO states do weapon supplies (mostly to dispose of their old stockpiles) and finance military companies that then reap immense profits; and Ukraine does the fighting, having Ukrainian soldiers die on the battlefield by tens thousand. Our briefers already flagged today that at a meeting with the head of the Kiev regime, Senator Lindsey Graham dubbed “Russians dying” as “the best money” the US has spent while assisting Ukraine. As of today, the total military assistance that the US and allies have provided to Ukraine stands at $55 billion. Western “champions of peace” do not care that their weapons are used to target civil facilities and kill civilians, of which abundant evidence is available.
The collective West not only steers an unrestrained flow of weapons to the Kiev regime, but also hosts training of AFU and nationalist battalions, providing the Ukrainian forces with intelligence for target designation and even authorizing strikes against specific targets with Western weapons. At the same time Western countries assert diligently that they are not involved in a conflict with Russia. In other words, they pose as neutral. But international law, including the provisions of the 1907 Hague Conventions and customary international law, unequivocally forbids neutral states to take any such action. Otherwise it leads to the loss of neutral status and turns the state into a party to an armed conflict.
Trying to justify themselves, our former partners say the 1907 Hague Conventions to have become outdated. Weird to hear this from states whose military authorities on a regular basis issue bulky volumes about the laws and customs of war. By the way, those also include a considerable section of rights and duties of neutral states that incorporates among other things the norms of those “dated” Conventions. I stress that this is not about some doctrine-style publications. This is about practical guides for army and navy commanders, which provide for the harshest measures to be taken to respond to violations of neutrality, including the use of force.
The 1907 Conventions are effective international treaties that no one ever abolished. Their main goal is to prevent the proliferation of armed conflicts and engagement of further actors in them. This is relevant today as never before, because the collective West openly declares a goal of dealing a “strategic defeat on Russia on the battlefield” and backs up these reckless claims with no less reckless steps. All this suggests a metaphor about playing with fire, but things are actually even worse. In its militarist frenzy, having lost any connection to reality, the West is knowingly provoking a direct clash among the nuclear powers.
Another argument is based on labeling our country an "aggressor" with reference to the resolutions of the 11th Extraordinary Special Session of the UN General Assembly. The United States, which has unleashed a record number of wars of aggression in modern history, pompously declares that one can help the "victim of aggression" without losing one’s neutral status. Any self-respecting expert on international law would make a laughing-stock of such an argument. And it is not even that member states’ support for these non-consensual documents of advisory nature that were imposed by the collective West evaporated before our eyes as the real causes of the Ukrainian crisis, as well as the role of the US and its satellites as its sponsors and main beneficiaries became evident. The main issue is that the UN Charter does not authorize the General Assembly to establish facts of "aggression”. Making any qualifications of this kind violates the provisions of the Charter and is null and void ‘ab initio’. So it turns out that "aggressor" is not a legal qualification, but a political assessment. Without a legal basis, the entire construct of "qualified neutrality" falls apart.
If we do want to talk about assessments, then the aggressor is the one who orchestrated the deadly pro-fascist coup in our neighboring country and by all their means and powers transformed the country in question into a formation that is hostile to Russia and everything Russian – history, culture, language, and even Orthodox Christian faith; the one who trained militias and nationalist battalions supplying them with arms long before February 2022, being well aware that these arms were used against peaceful population in the Donbas. The portrayal of NATO, to which Ukraine is so eager to enter, as a purely defensive alliance sounds like an unfortunate joke against the extensive record of unprovoked and unjustified military aggressions involving this militaristic bloc.
The speculations in the Western legal doctrine about alleged collective self-defense under Article 51 do not stand up to scrutiny either. There are two main issues here. We cannot recall the Security Council being notified, even though according to the UN Charter, this should be done immediately. Besides, a statement of "self-defense" against Russia would have been tantamount to stating oneself at war with our country.
What’s even more interesting is a reference to alleged counter-measures under the international law. As we all know, such measures must meet the criterion of proportionality. But what kind of damage has Russia done to the United States or the European Union that would explain the killing of our citizens with Western weapons, the sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipes, or terrorist attacks on prominent Russian public personalities? Before it is too late, we recommend the authors of such speculative constructs to give some thought to the main question, which is as follows. What should Russia’ counter-measures be in this case?
Our former partners on the Council will most likely talk again about their commitment to settling the Ukrainian crisis. However there is a fact that would not fit into the narrative that the West is spreading. As early as in spring last year, a draft peace treaty was initialed in Istanbul by the head of the negotiator team from Ukraine. The President of Russia demonstrated it publicly during a recent meeting with African leaders. But when the Kiev regime, under pressure from its sponsors, stepped back on the agreements already made and also established a legal ban on peace talks with Russia, it became clear that Western states are not interested in achieving a sustainable and lasting peace in our region.
So what is it that we have today? Last March, Western countries did not allow Ukraine to agree with Russia on a peaceful coexistence and to become a neutral non-aligned state posing no threats. Instead, they are arming the country in a mad expectation that Ukraine will be able to defeat Russia. The Western equipment is burning down, while the Kiev regime and its sponsors are running out of Ukrainian and other old Soviet equipment. For example, today, just before our meeting, the Prime Minister of Latvia said that Ukraine was already integrated into NATO in terms of armaments. It is hard to disagree, for today’s Ukraine can only fight using the weapons it gets from NATO. It has almost nothing else. The luminary of European diplomacy, Mr. Borrell, said today that the EU is considering turning the European Peace Fund into a Defense Fund for Ukraine. We would advise Mr. Borrell, as we have done before, not to limit himself to half-measures and interim solutions, but to rename the European Peace Fund to the European War Fund at once. Ukraine has no weapons of its own, but still has Ukrainians, who are being herded to the slaughter as part of the so-called "counter-offensive by the AFU" that Ukrainians call nothing less than the "Zaporozhye meat-grinder”. The Kiev regime's mobilization reserve has not yet run out (although this is what’s coming), but – and this is extremely sad – there is already no space left at Ukrainian cemeteries.
And all this unnecessary carnage is being imposed on Ukraine for the sole purpose – to report at least some success at the coveted NATO summit next month. Then Western governments will be able to claim that the huge money they spent on Ukraine was not wasted and that new weapons will go there to burn down eventually just like the ones that AFU has now. The balance of power will not be altered by any weapon supplies, and most independent military experts already admit openly that the defeat of the Kiev regime is only a matter of time. And of the number of lives that AFU will have to lose during that time absolutely for nothing. And only Western propagandists promote meaningless and empty slogans that Ukraine can win. After all, they do not care in the least for the interests of Ukrainians. They only want to weaken Russia as much as possible.
Of course, our opponents still have in their "stash" high-profile staged terrorist attacks, which they try to "hang" on Russia, such as Bucha or the destruction of the Kakhovka dam. God forbid they should dare to provoke an accident at the ZNPP, which they keep firing at. This would kill and affect a lot of people across Europe. Today we circulated a letter as an official document of the UN Security Council and General Assembly, where we once again confirm, amid crazy insinuations by Kiev representatives, that we have no intention of blowing up the plant that we control and urge the Secretary-General and the international community to influence Kiev to refrain from provocations against the ZNPP.
This is roughly what the situation looks like today. Now that a chance for peace was missed last March through the fault of the US and EU, its conditions for Ukraine will be different.
I want to conclude with a quote from a very respected and experienced European leader. Last week he literally said the following: "Ukraine is no longer a sovereign country. They have no money, no weapons. They can only fight because we in the West support them. The only way to save Ukraine is for the Americans to initiate negotiations with the Russians, agree on the security architecture, and find a place for Ukraine in this new security architecture."
There is actually nothing to comment here. It is good that the bitter truth is now reaching the minds of Western leaders. Delivering more weapons to Ukraine will not lead the West to the result it desires, which is to prevail on the battlefield and inflict a strategic defeat on Russia. I wish for our Western colleagues to realize this as soon as possible.
Right of reply:
I would like to make a few comments to respond to points that were raised with regard to an alleged shelling of a pizzeria in Kramatorsk.
Here is a readout from the Russian Ministry of Defense. “As the result of the precision strike on 27 June 2023 in Kramatorsk (Donetsk People's Republic) at the temporary deployment area of the AFU 56th Separate Motorised Infantry Brigade”, which we may add also included a hotel located at the same spot, “two generals participating in a staff meeting, up to 50 AFU officers, as well as 20 foreign mercenaries and military advisors were eliminated”. No further comment needed here, I believe.
Now to the Wagner Group, and the reference that some of you made to the events in Russia last week. Of course this is our internal affair. However, I will add here that the leadership of the Russian Federation took exhaustive measures to resolve the situation as swiftly as possible while precluding a large-scale destabilization in the country, an outbreak of violence and threats to the civilian population. The unlawful actions of the mutineers were strongly rejected by the Russian society, which demonstrated its responsibility for the fate of the country, consolidation around the President of Russia, immunity to external and internal challenges, and futility of attempts by Russia's enemies to exploit the situation to weaken our country. We note the wide response from friendly states, who addressed to us words of sympathy and support.
In the assessments that some of you made, we could sense resentment that the developments did not follow the scenario that you would have preferred and did not trigger unrest in Russia. As we see now, they could not have led to any such thing, though you and your protégés in Kiev clearly hoped for that. It was with bated breath that you watched this situation unfold. I can imagine how bitterly disappointed both you and them were afterwards.
The Permanent Representative of the UK made some toxic insinuations today that were full of lies and classical British clichés, i.a. as regards the methods of warfare, so-called abductions of children or their alleged use as human shield, inclusion on the report on children and armed conflict, and other allegations. We will respond to that in due course. Quite luckily, July is going to be the month of the British Presidency of the Security Council.
In front of our eyes, the US representative is shamelessly lying again. Among other things, he is lying about a series of missile strikes on Kiev during the visit of African representatives. This was refuted not only by us, but also by African delegations themselves who were on a visit in Kiev and described what had happened as a staged provocation. I would also say that in order for this warfare to stop, the American masters should give a corresponding order to their dependents in Kiev.
The lack of such signals only speaks of one thing. The United States does not need or want for this conflict to stop. What the US wants is to have it continue while it waits for Russia to suffer a defeat, preferably (in the US interpretation) a strategic one. I must say that this is not going to happen.
Finally, let me once again thank Mr.Blumenthal and Mr.Bowes for their substantive and sobering assessments. The truth that you are spreading pains some of those who are present in this Chamber. I must apologize to you for all our colleagues who tried to profane your presentations.