Statement by Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation Vassily Nebenzia at the UNGA meting on Ukraine
First of all, we would like to say that 63agenda item imposed upon the United Nations General Assembly, has nothing to do with reality, even with virtual reality. Moreover, it is surrealistic.
In Ukraine, there is no "temporarily occupied territories". If the Ukrainian delegation means Crimea, then it is a constituent entity of the Russian Federation, which became that in 2014 following the referendum. At the referendum, 96.77 % of voters, with 83.1% turnout, voted in favour of the reunification of the peninsula with Russia.
If they are talking about Donbas, there is a civil conflict between the Kiev authorities and citizens of Ukraine who refused to accept and acknowledge the coup in Ukraine in 2014.
For 6 years the Ukrainian Authorities, first the old authorities an now the new ones, have been exploiting a very convenient legend. They assert that there is no civil conflict, but Russia's aggression against Ukraine. This is a convenient position. It enables them to shirk implementation of the Minsk agreements. It enables them to portray themselves as a victim, rather than as an aggressor, which in 2014 send its army and nationalist battalions to Donbass in order to quell popular protests there.
This is all the more convenient given the fact that such a stand enjoys the support of the western patrons of Kiev, former "guarantors" of the agreement on the settlement of the crisis in Ukraine in February 2014. This agreement was trampled upon immediately. Those Western sponsors then gave Kiev carte blanche to sabotage the Minsk agreements and a license to any lie. Everything was covered up.
Today it was mentioned about the incident on February 18 in Golubovskoye near Lugansk, where a Ukrainian subversive group attempted to enter the territory controlled by self-defense forces. As a result there was the fighting, during which a Ukrainian serviceman died. The Armed Forces of Ukraine responded with mortar fire of 50 shells targeting the residential areas.
And the very next day, foreign newspapers, not to mention Ukrainian ones, reported that the DPR and the LPR broke the truce on the day of the fifth anniversary of the Minsk agreements.
А вы знаете, где находится тело несчастного 22-летнего украинского военнослужащего, которого послали воевать со своим народом? У ополченцев. Это вяжется с версией о том, что они начали наступление? И еще вчера тело даже не удосужились забрать.
Do you know where is the body of the unfortunate 22-year-old Ukrainian soldier, who was sent to fight against his fellows? At self-defense forces’. Does this comport with the version that they began an offensive? And yesterday, Ukrainians didn't even try to take the body.
Six years ago we all witnessed the tragedy in the center of Kiev. The culmination of this was a bloody coup, that toppled Ukraine, led to the cessation of Crimea and ongoing armed conflict in Donbas. A large-scale systemic crisis is now sweeping the country. This crisis was largely provoked and actively supported by Western states, and above all by the United States. Everything that subsequently was happening in Ukraine can not be characterized anything other but endless political chaos, legal nihilism and rampant ultra-nationalism. At the same time, there were proactive attempts to distort the truth, to conceal the real facts behind baseless accusations. Today, the inconvenient truth, inconvenient for Kiev, including the truth about the Maidan, is now coming to light.
The Ukrainian voters assessed the governance of the Maidan authorities last year at the presidential and parliamentary elections, expressing mistrust to them and voting for changes in the future. The new leadership of the country was able to grasp the sentiments in the society, but so far it has not been able to offer an alternative, pursuing the doomed policy of the predecessors.
The starting point of any UN discussions on settlement in Ukraine is the recognition of the Package of Measures on Implementation of the Minsk Agreements adopted 5 years ago by the SC Resolution 2202 as the sole international legal basis for the international community’s efforts on this track.
The Maneuvers, such as today's one, which the Ukrainian delegation has been undertaking, unfortunately, show unwillingness to recognize it. This was also obvious during the SC meeting the day before yesterday to commemorate the 5th anniversary of Resolution 2202. The key to the settlement of any conflict is the dialogue between the parties to a conflict. We always call for the dialog - in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, etc. However, there is no need to engage in a dialogue with Donbass. After all, according to one of the founders of the Minsk agreements and the "Normandie format", Permanent Representative of Germany Mr. Heusgen, they are merely "Russian puppets". It means there is no need to engage in discussions with them. Instead, we hear the mantra, we are already sick and tired of, about "Russian aggression" and Russian non-compliance with the Minsk Agreement, even though we are not mentioned in it.
Given such an irresponsible approach to the Minsk agreements, we can hardly imagine how the decisions of the December summit in Paris will be implemented; accordingly, the prospects for the next meeting are also very vague.
More broadly, there will be no progress in the settlement until the real root causes of the problems in Ukraine are addressed. Nothing will change unless the interests of a huge part of the country's population are taken into account by the Ukrainian authorities. And I’m talking not only about the residents of Donbass.
After the anti-constitutional coup 6 years ago, the population of the Eastern part and Crimea made it clear that they did not support the new regime, which turned everything in the country upside down. And if in any civilized country the authorities would try to sit down at the negotiating table, the Maidan actors decided to send punitive "friendship trains" with thugs to the Crimea peninsula, and military forces to the east, to drop bombs and shells. That is the root of all problems in Ukraine. Naturally, people started looking for a way to protect their lives and values.
The Crimeans decided to return to their ancestral homeland and held a referendum, while the population of Donbas gave Kiev one more chance and made concessions by signing in February 2015 a Package of measures to implement the Minsk agreements, which Russia and the OSCE attested.
However, today we see that Ukrainian authorities, instead of trying to regain trust of millions of its citizens, is doing precisely the opposite. They adopt laws that blatantly discriminate against people in their religious, cultural, economic and political rights; impose censorship and prohibitions on the use of their mother tongue. All of this has nothing to do with respect for people, their views and dignity - what the UN calls inclusiveness.
And when we hear tales that Russia is allegedly violating something, which means that Kiev should not comply with the pledges made to its own people, we are well aware that its only purpose is to expand its discriminatory policy to Donbass. And the residents of these regions understand this as well as we do, which is why they do everything possible to resist.
It’s obvious to us that Kiev fears to fulfill its obligations under the Minsk Agreements and to conduct elections primarily due to the fact that people in the East are likely to vote for those who protected them from the Ukrainian army, its bullets and shells. The heirs of the Maidan do not wish to play such a democracy. Hence all these talks about immediate return of control over the border and refusal to guarantee amnesty to the combatants.
Who are you trying to fool with your propaganda? Those people who see which side the bullets fly from? Did Donbass attack Kiev? Do you think that people do not understand that if the self-defense forces surrender, the events of five years ago in Odessa will be repeated immediately in Donetsk and Lugansk. They remember the day, 2 May, when dozens of people were burned alive in the House of Trade Unions just for not supporting the Maidan. And nobody has been punished for this tragedy in Ukraine so far.
Instead of supporting the national dialogue, the Ukrainian authorities, through special services, persistently suppress any dissent, interfering in the work of the media and carrying out searches in the editorial offices of news agencies.
International human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Freedom House, explicitly point to the fact that radical groups in the country enjoy complete impunity cloaking themselves in patriotic rhetoric. The policy of glorification of Nazism has long been a norm in Ukraine.
At a meeting of the Security Council on 18 February, a Ukrainian representative said that on 9 May, in Moscow people will carry portraits of Stalin.
If he meant a military parade, then it's a parade of the units of Armed Forces and equipment. If he was talking about the Immortal Regiment marches, which occur in Moscow and other cities throughout Russia and abroad, then people are holding portraits of their family members, participants of the Great Patriotic War. Among them, of course, there will be Ukrainians. I will carry the portrait of my father, who went to the war in 1941 as a volunteer in Leningrad and ended it in 1945 in Berlin.
It is possible that portraits of different commanders will be there, including portraits of Stalin. He was, after all, the Commander-in-Chief and the winner of the WWII and the Great Patriotic War. But I do know for sure that during this procession there will be no portraits of Bandera and Shukhevich, Nazi henchmen and collaborators, heroes of modern Ukraine.
While at the parade in Moscow on May 9, in memory of the common victory of our countries in the Great Patriotic War, people will go out with portraits of their relatives-winners and those who liberated the world from fascism. In Kiev, such daredevils will be intimidated, and those who carry portraits of fascist collaborators - praised. No secret that your delegation votes every year against the General Assembly resolution on the glorification of Nazism.
Today the 115th anniversary of the writer Ulas Samchuk, whom Ukrainians call "Ukrainian Homer", is celebrated at the state level. Listen to the quotes of this "Homer". Analyzing a Hitler’s speech, he said: “This is that invincible spiritual and moral power, which over the centuries has formed and hardened that nation. These are those numerous generations of immortal bearers of the creative spirit of the people, who today advance the history under the leadership of his mighty Leader”. "The Fuhrer of Great Germany and his valiant soldiers brought us freedom. DO NOT FORGET IT! We thank the Führer Adolf Hitler and the victorious German soldiers, laboring for our land".
This is a country where you invite the people of Donbass to return. And they do not wish to shout slogans glorifying Bandera and they do not wish to glorify heroes alien to them and to the vast majority of Europeans. They want pay tribute to those who liberated them, not to those who cooperated with the Nazis and killed thousands of Jews, Russians, Ukrainians and Poles.
Give them right to decide themselves how to live: give them a special status within Ukraine, give them right to elect their leaders and language, as it is done throughout the civilized world. After all, these simple things are the essence of the Package of measures.
Now, once again, with regard to attempts to impose upon the General Assembly the discussion of Crimea.
If someone doesn't want to acknowledge the decision of the Republic of Crimea to become part of the Russian Federation, then one manifests contempt for 2.5 million Crimeans. And we bother about them. Therefore, the Russian Federation respects and protects the expression of popular will of the residents of Crimea, which was the response to the actions and the Maidan leaders.
As for violations of human rights, then the most blatant violations are committed by those who introduced visa restrictions for Crimeans, denying them the right to free movement. And those who imposed sanctions that affected ordinary citizens. You decided to punish them for choosing Russia? Why do you think that you can instruct Crimeans and other Russians what they should to do?
Those who wish to come and make sure that the situation in the peninsula is far from that Kiev and its sponsors are trying to present. I want to assure you that they are always welcome in the Crimea. Join 7 million tourists and ask Crimeans directly about their sentiment – you are likely to be surprised by the answers. Do not believe in cheap propaganda - seeing is believing
I hope that all those present in this hall will finally give a rightful assessment of Ukraine's attempt to politicize the General Assembly meetings. Today is a stark example. Rather than condoning provocations by Kyiv authorities, let us focus on finally compelling Ukraine take into account the voice of its fellows residing in the east of the country.