Remarks by Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN Mr. Vassily Nebenzia at the Security Council Arria Formula meeting on the circumstances of Maidan and its aftereffects in Donbass
Thank you for joining us today.
Some of our Western colleagues enriched our informal working methods of Arria Formula meetings by choosing not to participate. They explain their absence by the fact that some of the briefers are on their national sanctions list. I would like to remind you in this regard that Russia had participated in all Arria Formula meetings during which persons who are on our stop lists had been briefing, namely leaders of the so-called Mejlis of Crimea Tatar people or other persons wanted for their criminal activities. Now we have no other choice but to act reciprocally. I think that fellow Council members deserve better respect.
It has been over 7 years now that the UN Security Council, among other international fora, is engaged in discussions of the crisis in the East of Ukraine. But the situation in the present-day Ukraine as a whole also deserves to be considered as it is all too often neglected.
Discussions on Ukraine, when organized by Ukraine or Kiev backers, tend to present the armed conflict in Donbass or events in Crimea as the reference point of the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine. They claim that the crisis started in spring of 2014, as if it appeared out of the blue and as if nothing was happening prior to that.
Since it is well-known in the United Nations that understanding the root causes of conflicts is an essential condition of their sustainable resolution we organized an Arria-Formula meeting on May 5th, where five briefers from Ukraine, all direct participants or victims, shared their stories pointing out to the real drivers of conflict in their then and now deeply divided country.
Of course, by now we got used that some of the Council members would remain deaf to the first-hand testimonies and wouldn’t stop repeating that anything contradictory to their official position is sheer “Russian propaganda”. But we do believe that in order to make Council’s Resolutions respected, we should dig into the details of why and who failed to make them implemented.
Today we will make another effort to analyze why the resolution of the Council 2202, that endorsed the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements, six years after its adoption in 2015 has not been implemented by the Kiev authorities, who prefer to blame their faults on the alleged external threats and involvement.
We plan to address the event that split the history of Ukraine into the periods of “before” and “after”, and divided the whole Ukrainian society – that event is the Maidan.
As always we have invited those who have either been personally engaged in the situation, or directly witnessed it through the camera lens. But before giving the floor to our distinguished briefers, allow me to say a few words in my national capacity.
For Russia Ukraine is an immediate neighbor with closest historical, cultural and family ties, the place of our common roots and birthplace and brotherly people. To us, as well as to millions of Ukrainians themselves, it was crystal clear from the outset that Maidan was forcing the country into an unnecessary and dangerous choice. Not only between Russia and the West, but between and among Ukrainians themselves – between the ugliest forms nationalism and multicultural and tolerant society, Ukraine that we knew before 2014, Ukraine that was kidnapped by present Kiev authorities.
This choice was orchestrated from the outside and driven by radical nationalists from the inside.
With years passing Ukrainians will not forget the most tragic pages of their history, like the mass murders in Odessa and Mariupol, or the tragedy of the so-called “heavenly hundred”. Despite absence of any will from authorities to investigate those crimes, more testimonies are coming to the surface. Witnesses, who spoke at the May 5 Arria meeting, shed light on what was happening in the regions.
It is also not a secret to anyone in Ukraine today that the deadly gun shots, made at Maidan in February 2014 are likely to have come from snipers under the orders of the coup leaders themselves. In particular, David Zhvania, former member of the Ukrainian parliament, recently made stunning revelations in that regard. Similar conclusions were made four years ago by a professor of the School of Political Studies of the University of Ottawa Ph.D. Ivan Katchanovski in his work “the “Snipers’ Massacre” on the Maidan in Ukraine”. However, despite all these sensational testimonies, the investigation once launched by Kiev is unsurprisingly making no headway.
It is also not a secret that European countries and the United States were proactive at all stages of Maidan, encouraging the upheaval and the radicals behind it.
Today, seven years later, the results are very well-known. Authorities in Kiev enjoy that same support despite the lack of engagement in the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. Kiev seems to be very encouraged by the military support it receives from abroad to help fight its own citizens in the East of the country, who only wanted to negotiate with Kiev the way the country will live after the Maidan coup, but received shells and bullets instead.
There should be no illusions – the continued militarization of Ukraine by the Western countries, the support of drawing up forces to the Contact Line in Donbass and the NATO exercises, such as “Defender Europe 2021” or any other, are not bringing the normalization of the situation in Ukraine and in the region any closer.
I will spare you of the account what Ukraine turned into economically, socially and culturally. I will leave this chance to our briefers to share this with you.
I believe that today’s discussion would help further clarify the background of the crisis in the East of Ukraine. I also hope that the main message is clear – unless the Western supporters of Kiev change their position on further encouraging Kiev’s aggression, violence, neo-nazism and unabated nationalism, the conflict in Ukraine will yet be far from resolution.
This being said I’m happy to open our discussion.
Let me inform you that our briefers will be speaking three different languages, Russian, English and French, so please do not hesitate to use the interpretation button at the bottom of your screen. The participants wishing to take the floor after the briefers to make a statement or raise questions to the panelists are welcome to indicate that through the Zoom-chat function.
Now I would like to introduce our briefers:
- Mr. Nikolay Azarov, Former Prime-Minister of Ukraine;
- Mr. Oleg Tsaryov, Former member of the Ukrainian Parliament (Rada);
- Mr. Vladimir Oleynik, Former member of the Ukrainian Parliament (Rada);
- Mr. Dean O’Brien, Freelance photographer documenting conflict in Donbass (UK);
- Ms. Anne-Laure Bonnel, a journalist and a film-maker (France).
Now I would like to give the floor to Mr. Azarov.
Following the statement by Mr. Tsaryov:
Mr. Tsaryov told us about the persecution of the opposition. But it not only had been the persecution of the opposition, the authorities had also been threatened before the Maidan. I know that the life of Mr. Azarov had been threatened even before the Maidan. Other Ukrainian officials had also been receiving death threats before it all happened.
Maybe you could say a few words about that or whatever you will choose to tell us, Mr. Azarov.
Following the statement by the representative of France:
The French representative who referred to our previous Arria Formula meeting said that we are promoting our false narrative. My feeling is that certain countries are promoting their own narrative on that issue without even giving a chance to those people who are not only first-hand witnesses, but who are real witnesses of what is happening in Ukraine. But we are not surprised. We didn't expect anything less or more from certain fellow members of the Council.
So, in conclusion, I would like to say a few words.
Mr. Oleynik said that he was surprised by double standards that he had witnessed before and witnessed today. I must tell him that we are not surprised by double standards. We've been through it for all these seven years of the conflict. We have tried to deliver our message and we continue to do it. That's why we are holding these very important meetings, which are not only about actual events, but also about the retrospective, the genesis of this conflict, its root causes.
All the time we hear the same narrative from our Western colleagues. They read their very important statements, but we already know all elements of them. This is quite understandable. Today it was witnessed by our participants. Some of these countries are directly complicit in what happened in Ukraine in 2014 and what has been happening in Ukraine since then.
The price of what has happened and is still happening in Ukraine, as Mr. Dean O’Brien said today, is lives of ordinary people, lives of citizens who live sometimes in miserable conditions, who do not have a clear destiny. I must remind all of you that they are Ukrainian citizens. Those are Ukrainian authorities who should take care of them but who instead prefer to neglect them, to call them separatists and terrorists. When I hear this, I am always amazed – as if that was Donbass which went to invade Kiev and not Kiev which went to Donbass with the Ukrainian army, with the orders to shoot and kill its own citizens.
I think that today’s meeting was useful despite well recognizable comments from some of our colleagues. I would like to wholeheartedly thank our briefers who are trying to make the truth heard. I am sure that one day or another, the whole truth about what happened in Ukraine, what is happening now and how this conflict should be resolved will finally reach those who are instrumental in facilitating the conflict.
I thank you very much once again, and I wish you all the best.