Remarks by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at an Arria-formula meeting of UNSC member states "The systematic war of Ukraine against the residents of Donbass: 2014 and onwards"
We welcome you at the Arria meeting of Security Council members that is dedicated to a very hard, yet crucial issue in terms of understanding the current situation and the genesis of the Ukrainian crisis and the war that Kiev has been waging on the people of Donbas for almost 9 years by now. During that time, the people of Donetsk and Lugansk always had to fear for their lives, as they were exposed to regular shelling by the armed forces of Ukraine.
Let me put this clearly. Every life that was taken is an irreparable loss. We grieve for all victims of that conflict, including Ukrainias. Their major tragedy is that the criminal regime that came to power in 2014 rushed eagerly and subserviently to do the bidding of their Western sponsors and patrons that was aimed at weakening Russia in geopolitical terms. While doing so, they treat their people as cannon fodder and push them into a fratricidal war to be fought “until the last Ukrainian”. In the meantime, the West rubs their hands gladly while testing new weaponry, getting rid of the old, and calculating profits for their military corporations. None of this would have happened had the Kiev regime implemented the Minsk Agreements and stopped fighting against the Russian-speaking population of Donbas.
In the recent months, the brutal violence of Kiev against its former citizens assumed an unprecedented scale. As soon as Ukraine started to receive long-range artillery from NATO in summer 2022, the Kiev regime discovered new opportunities for targeted annihilation of the cities of Donbas. Since then, the number of civilian casualties has increased four-fold, and the devastation of civilian infrastructure has tripled.
Since the end of November 2022, there were more than 2000 massive attacks. Donetsk was subjected to shelling on a daily basis, which killed dozens of civilians. In the center of the city, its administrative and residential quarters, you can hardly find a location that has not been affected. Capital of the Donetsk People’s Republic is being methodically razed down to the ground.
The Joint Center of the DPR and LPR for Control and Coordination of Issues Related to War Crimes of Ukraine collects and publishes all facts of such shelling.
Here is some photo-evidence of strikes against Donetsk that were launched on 22 September, 5 November, and 30 December. Every time it looks the same. Western weapons are used to target peaceful facilities – hotels, restaurants, culture centers, sporting facilities, residential buildings that bear no significance for the course of hostilities and are located far from the frontline.
Starting from 17 February 2022, the total of 4591 civilians from the DPR and LPR fell as casualties, 154 of them were children. During one year, the total number of victims of Ukrainian attacks has increased by one third. More than 13,000 residential buildings were damaged, as well as 147 medical and 560 educational facilities.
Foreign journalists who dared to visit Donbas see a shocking picture. For example, here is the report of Johnny Miller from Press TV dated 8 December 2022.
Another method that is used to target civilians is the banned “Lepestok” landmines, which they airdrop onto residential areas of the cities of Donbas. We already spoke about this barbaric practice in the Security Council. Starting from last summer, despite the warnings about the danger of such mines that are posted everywhere, there have been 87 instances when Lepestoks detonated by the feet of civilians, including 4 children. We will not demonstrate photos of terrible injuries inflicted by those mines, but will show this mockup. That’s what a Lepestok looks like.
As you see, it is hard to detect on the ground, and children can easily mistake it for a toy. Unfortunately, we know about such cases. There is no tactical sense in planting Lepestoks. Let me repeat, that by doing so, they deliberately target civilians. We repeatedly informed the Secretary-General and the Security Council about that.
In recent months, the scope of Kiev’s crimes has been especially hard to ignore – even for Western states and media. But how do they explain this? Let’s see. There are two arguments that they make.
First – there are casualties and destruction on both sides, which is a sad consequence of the ongoing armed conflict. Thereby Russia is accused of higher-profile tragedies that caused casualties and were extensively covered by Western media, like the residential building in Dnepropetrovsk that was hit by a missile recently.
While blaming Russia, they however conceal the crucial fact that differentiates incidents taking place in Ukraine from those in Donbas. Russia launches strikes from high-precision weapons that target only military and energy facilities. But air defense that is used to down them quite often is deployed in residential quarters in violation of the international humanitarian law. As a results, fragments of the downed missiles or of the air-defense missiles can hit civil facilities. This was the case in Kremenchug and Dnepropetrovsk. On some occasions, Ukrainian stray missiles also landed in Poland and Moldova.
Ukrainian propaganda is doing its best to prevent spread of the true information that residents of Ukrainian cities and villages most often die from the bullets of those who, it would seem, should protect them - nationalist battalions and units of the UAF. However, the evidence of this fact is so abundant that this truth simply cannot be concealed. This is when provocations and false-flag maneuvers come to the stage, like the ones in Bucha and Izum that faked a “massacre of civilians” allegedly performed by Russian troops. In their toolkit, they also have provocations of the Kramatorsk type, when the armed forces of Ukraine launched a rocket against evacuees. As you remember, this provocation was so uncouth and it disclosed so much evidence confirming the responsibility of Ukraine that Kiev and its Western sponsors had to stop proliferating this story.
As soon as anyone in Ukraine or in the West dares to speak out on this, they are pressured into silence. This is exactly what happened to the mouthpiece of Kiev’s propaganda, adviser to the President of Ukraine, Mr.Arestovich. After disclosing some details about the tragedy in Dnepropetrovsk, he was accused of “spreading the Russian propaganda” and made to retire. His data was even posted on the infamous “Mirotvorets” website.
Ukrainian strikes against the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk republics promise no military advantage. There are no military facilities there, and the contact line is rather far away. Unfortunately, there are such types of Western weapons at Kiev’s disposal that they can only use after they have coordinated the time and the goal of the attack with the states that delivered this hardware. This gives us reason to believe that the US and NATO knowingly and deliberately become accomplices in Kiev’s crimes against the people of Donbas.
The second argument of our opponents is even more scary, cynical, and disrespectful of the Donbas population than the first. They try to persuade us that before February 2022 there had been nothing – no deaths, no destructions, no such thing as the 8-year-long war of the neo-Nazi regime against its own population. Here, have a look at how the native of Donbas, Pyotr Zamaev, tries to diminish the sufferings of his fellow-countrymen in an interview to Turkish TNT.
“A handful of civilians”, is it what you call it? Fortunately, truth cannot be obliterated completely. We still remember that back in 2014 even the CNN reported about the thousands of victims of the conflict and the bombings of Donbas. Apparently, by that moment they had not yet received the guideline how to “properly” cover the developments in Ukraine.
I stress that this coverage is dated 2014. You will not see anything like this on CNN now. Of course, the people of Donbas sought to stop this nightmare by all possible means. High hopes were pinned on the Minsk Agreements that the Security Council endorsed back in 2015. This piece from the documentary “8 years Before Donbass” by American journalist Donald Courter gives a clear idea of the expectations and the reality of the Minsk Package.
Journalists who travelled to Donbas to have a look at the other side of the contact line collected personal stories of hundreds of lives affected by the war. People who were killed and tortured at their own home were completely at a loss, failing to understand why someone would hate them so much. This is Yulia Mikhailova, who lost her hand in the Ukrainian bombardment of Donetsk, asking a question that she has struggled to find an answer to.
All these years, Russia has been tirelessly drawing the attention of the world community to the lawlessness that Kiev created. In the Security Council, we called on Ukraine to implement the Minsk Agreements every year on the same day that the deal had been signed. This by far not the first Arria meeting on this topic that we organize. Each of them clearly demonstrated that the history of Donbas of the past 9 years is a story of suffering of civilians and broken human lives. Take the story of Ms.Anna Tuv, who addressed the Council via VTC on 5 May 2021. This woman lost almost all her family and her home in a Ukrainian bombardment and was left disabled. This is just one case. Unfortunately, such tragedies continue to happen, and one meeting will surely not suffice to cover them all.
We have prepared a compilation of summaries of the recent meetings on this topic. Besides, we will hand out a booklet by the Foundation for the Study of Democracy containing evidence of crimes committed by Ukrainian neo-Nazis.
Our todays briefers are the people who saw with their own eye what Kiev has been doing to Donbas. They will provide firsthand accounts and share some insights about the causes and consequences of this tragedy.
All multimedia that will be demonstrated by the briefers or have been demonstrated by us today can be accessed through this link.
We have approached the conclusion of our meeting, and I thank you for participating. We convened this Arria meeting in order to give the floor to those who have firsthand knowledge of the situation in Donbas. We did it for the people of Donbas, whose voice some of you preferred not to hear before and still refuse to hear now.
Whoever wanted to listen to us did so. Whoever closes their eyes and ears with their hands, not willing to know anything about Kiev’s crimes against its people, will continue to label any firsthand accounts and evidence as “Russian propaganda”. Again, we did not do it for you. But rather for those who still retain their conscience and ability to take the truth.