Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at the Eleventh Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly
The Ukrainian issue has recently dominated the information field and taken a central spot on the UNSC and UNGA agenda. Thereby the actions of Russia get twisted and distorted and become surrounded by a huge number of unthinkable fables and fakes, involving mass and social media. That is why today I would like to speak in detail about the reasons that triggered this crisis, and also address its possible consequences.
Let me emphasize that the root cause of this Ukrainian crisis is Ukraine’s acts and its years-long sabotage of direct obligations under the Minsk Package. A very short while ago there still was hope that Kiev would think better and finally implement what it committed to back in 2015. What was needed for that was a direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk in the first place. But then Ukraine’s leadership once again confirmed that it was not ready for such dialogue, for steps towards granting a special status (that was enshrined in the Minsk Agreements) to Donbas. Coupled with explicit support for that on the part of Ukraine’s Western patrons, it finally convinced us that we had no right to make the people of Donbas suffer any longer.
Ukrainian provocations against Donbas in February did not stop, but actually intensified, which is why the leadership of DPR and LPR turned to us with a request to grant military support under bilateral agreements on cooperation that had been signed simultaneously with the recognition of Donetsk and Lugansk. The recognition itself was a logical step resulting from the unstopping aggression of the Ukrainian regime.
Ukrainian authorities, whom certain states have been arming and inciting lately, are still under a delusion that with a blessing of Western sponsors, they may secure a military solution to the problem of Donbas. Otherwise, it is hard to explain dramatic intensification of fire and acts of sabotage on the territory of the republics that I mentioned. People of Donetsk and Lugansk still had to hide in basements. Refugees kept flowing to Russia. As for the nature of provocations by Ukraine’s Armed Forces, it has not changed. But our Western colleagues preferred not noticing it and echoing Ukraine’s telltales, according to which the people of Donbas all but bombard themselves.
In general, the West consistently ignores the growing sufferings of the people of Donbas. This topic has been actively discussed in the Security Council and General Assembly for a week by now, but over that time, they have uttered no word of sympathy or compassion for the people of DPR and LPR. It might seem that those 4 million people simply do not exist for our Western colleagues.
So in view of these unabating threats to People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, and also due to the lack of prospects for solving the problem of Donbas in the framework of the Minsk Agreements, President of Russia Vladimir Putin made a decision to start a special military operation in Donbas. Occupation of Ukraine is not part of our plans. The goal of this operation is protection of people who have been victimized and exposed to genocide by the Kiev regime for past 8 years. To ensure this, we will seek demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, and criminal prosecution for those who committed numerous heinous crimes against civilians, including citizens of the Russian Federation.
This decision was made as per Article 51 of the UN Charter and authorized by the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of Russia in pursuance of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance with DPR and LPR. Let me also remind that the principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, of which violation we are being accused with regard to Ukraine, as stipulated in 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States, must be strictly observed with regard to states that are “conducting themselves in compliance with the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples and thus possessed of a government representing the whole people belonging to the territory without distinction as to race, creed or colour.” The current government of Ukraine is not like this.
Besides, during this special operation Russia exercises its right to self-defense from a regime that sought to recover access to nuclear weapons. President of Ukraine openly stated this on 18 February at the Munich Conference. I remind that these words of his were welcomed with applause. At the same time, Ukraine pursues NATO membership (with its Chapter 5) and has territorial claims to Russia. So by activating Article 51 of the UN Charter, Russia not only protects itself against a nationalist threat, but also recovers validity of the goals and principles of the UN Charter on the territory of Donbas and Ukraine, and provides for full implementation of the main task of the United Nations – prevention of a new world war.
Unfortunately, we have to note the negative role that our Western colleagues under the lead of the United States played in this story. Instead of making Kiev implement its obligations, they openly incited Ukraine, repeating their absolutely void mantra that allegedly it was Russia that did not comply with the Minsk Agreements – even though, as we repeatedly said, Russia was never a side to them. Besides, our Western colleagues shamelessly pumped Ukraine with arms and sent there instructors. In fact, they have been encouraging Ukraine that pulled 120,000 troops to the contact line, to embark on armed provocations against Donbas.
When discussing this topic, we must be mindful of a broader context that triggered the current crisis in Ukraine. Back in 2008, at Russia-NATO summit in Bucharest, President Putin warned that NATO states should think thrice before making a boastful record that Ukraine and Georgia “would be in NATO”. But they presented it as a huge compromise that France and Germany could achieve replacing the US proposal to extend a membership action plan to Ukraine and Georgia right away.
Then, inspired by NATO, Georgian President Saakashvili embarked on his venture in 2008, and Russia was blamed for it despite all facts. Finally, in 2014 there was a deadly and unconstitutional coup in Kiev. As a result, nationalists and radicals came to power and adopted a course towards transforming Ukraine in an “anti-Russia” and making it a NATO member. I will get back to it later.
For us, Ukraine’s accession to NATO is a “red line”, first of all due to military and strategic considerations. Placement of NATO infrastructure on Ukrainian soil would make us retaliate which would inevitably put Russia and NATO on the verge of conflict. That is why in December 2021 we reached out to the US and NATO offering to make agreements that should give Russia some security guarantees. We extended our hand, but the US and NATO haughtily rejected us. We were offered to discuss important, yet secondary issues that did not lift our concerns. Besides, they refused to answer our question how freedom of alliance that is declared in OSCE documents reconciled with the principle of indivisible security.
I think many of you are wondering what to do now and what role the United Nations can play in settling the Ukrainian crisis. We are convinced that the UN can and must play a role to help bring closer the positions of various stakeholders and eliminate reasons for confrontation. According to the UN Charter, the role of the Security Council is critical in this regard. However our partners make no attempt to discuss this matter in a composed manner. That is why we voted against the anti-Russian and anti-Ukrainian draft resolution that was put forward to the Security Council on 25 February. I think I need not to explain why the draft was anti-Russian – suffice it to briefly look at it. But why anti-Ukrainian? Because this document, without any doubt, contradicts the fundamental interests of the Ukrainian people, as it seeks to protect and secure in Ukraine the system of power that brought the country to this tragedy that has lasted for at least 8 years by now.
The main reason why we voted “no” was not what the draft resolution said, but rather what it did not say. If only its sponsors had at least tried to make it vaguely resemble a well-balanced document, they would not have left behind issues that must not be forgotten in the context of Ukraine’s problem.
In particular, they left behind the story how the Maidan junta that rose to power after the unconstitutional coup d'état in Kiev in February 2014 waged war on the people of eastern Ukraine, firing at residential quarters from guns and multiple rocket launchers and air-dropping bombs on Donetsk and Lugansk. They left behind how Ukrainian authorities, with connivance of their Western sponsors, cynically and consistently evaded implementing the Minsk Agreements, which envisaged as a core element direct dialogue with the people of Donbas. At the same time, Ukrainian punitive squads deployed on the contact line – representing radical and neo-Nazi battalions in the first place – systematically and on a daily basis bombarded residential areas of the DPR and LPR, killing women, children, elderly people. This is still happening today.
How can we not mention ghastly crimes committed by Ukrainian Nazis in the course of past 8 years? Or the people who protested against Maidan and were burnt alive in Odessa? Or shooting up of peaceful protesters on Maidan square by unidentified snipers? The Maidan regime deliberately wore out investigations of both those tragedies. In the meantime, those who are guilty of the Odessa tragedy are well known and do not seem to be hiding. Alternative investigations and confessions of the snipers themselves unequivocally confirm that the onslaught on the Square of Independence resulted from a provocation by the leaders of Maidan. Last year we hosted informal Security Council meetings under a Formula Arria format to discuss both those episodes and give our colleagues in the Council more information on that matter. But in response, we at best heard some clichés about “Russian propaganda”. How can there be a resolution on Ukraine that does not mention what I just referred to?
Also, it would be good to include in this draft resolution a fair assessment of the role that our Western colleagues played in fueling the Ukrainian crisis. They not only stood behind the Maidan coup, but in fact gave carte blanche to Kiev for any acts and steps that are unthinkable to any civilized state. Those acts include flagrant discrimination of the Russian language and therefore Russian-speaking people; glorification of Hitler’s accomplices coupled with a ban on paying tribute to the real heroes of Ukraine who liberated it from Nazism; and also arranging a religious schism in Ukraine. While telling tales about a triumph of democracy in Ukraine, the Maidan authorities and nationalists killed political opponents with impunity, persecuted the opposition, shut down opposition TV channels where one could get relatively objective information. Six such channels were shut down during President Zelensky's tenure. Or can we forget how you pumped up Ukraine with weapons that later were used to kill civilians in Donbas? It is not only the current Ukrainian leadership, but also our Western colleagues who are responsible for what is happening now.
Let me draw your attention to the fact that a “bubble” of lies, fakes, and misinformation is being created around the Russian special military operation. In particular, it is the houses in Donbas that were destroyed by nationalists and Ukraine’s armed forces that Western media most often brazenly present as consequences of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.
We constantly hear lies and fakes about indiscriminate bombardments of Ukrainian cities, hospitals, schools and kindergartens.
Russian military pose no threat to Ukraine’s peaceful citizens, they do not fire at peaceful facilities. Cities that are controlled by Russian Armed Forces live normally: critical infrastructure and transit keep working, public order is maintained by joint efforts with local administrations. Same can be said about the Chernobyl NPP, where joint patrols of Russian Armed Forces and special units of Ukrainian police are taking place.
What does pose a threat to the people of Ukraine is Ukrainian nationalists who in fact hold them as hostages and use as a human shield. There is numerous evidence, disseminated by ordinary Ukrainians, proving that nationalists, despite people’s protests, deploy heavy equipment and multiple rocket launchers in residential quarters. This is a blatant violation of the international humanitarian law that must be duly condemned. Basically, it is the same tactics as that of ISIL terrorists. All responsibility for possible consequences rests with the Maidan regime.
Another thing that threatens the people of Ukraine is uncontrolled distribution of weapons by radicals and the authorities to all those who are ready to have them, including criminals that have been released from prisons. Those guns already shoot in the hands of burglars and plunderers. Numerous proofs of that can be easily found on social media. Those are posted by the dwellers of Kiev and other cities. This demonstrates the irresponsible approach of the Ukrainian authorities to its citizens.
We have just received a letter from Ukrainian rights advocate – public organization “Institute of legal policy and social protection named after Irina Berezhnaya”. For past 8 years, the Institute has been raising awareness of international mechanisms about the genesis and the making of nationalism in Ukraine, and the way it was and is supported at the state level.
Here is a brief quote from the letter: “Today is the apotheosis of neo-Nazi outrage in Ukraine! On orders of the authorities, convicts were released from prisons. Those are people who committed felonies: murders, violent crimes, etc.” In Kiev alone 25,000 assault rifles were given without any document check to anyone who wanted to have arms. It started a surge of murders, burglaries, plundering. Representatives of so-called territorial defense of Kiev yesterday cynically shot up a car of Anton Kudrin and his family. The parents and one of their daughters died on the scene, two more children are in a hospital in a critical condition. Mr.O.Turchynov, who was Ukraine’s Acting President after the unconstitutional takeover in February 2014, called all unindifferent citizens to kill Russians throughout the entire territory of the country.
Notwithstanding that the recent census in Ukraine that was held in 2019, reported that 17 % of the population were Russians. In reality this rate is much higher.
Today we witness an information war on Russia in social media. Since there are no proofs that Russian military destroy civilian infrastructure, Ukrainian strikes and occasional hits are presented as such, as well as photo and video footage from Donbas that again depict crimes committed by Ukrainian nationalists. Besides, in social media one can easily find tutorials that teach how to shoot fakes that should defile our special operation. All in all, there are 1.2 million such fakes in Ukrainian social media. What the Ukrainian Ambassador cited today, I mean communication of a mother with her soldier-son, was also born on social media. This is known for sure.
Yesterday we did not support a draft decision that suggested bringing this issue to today’s UNGA session. We did so, because such move basically made us attest that the Council was not able to uphold its main responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. There was no faintest hint of an attempt to try and find a constructive solution within the Council.
An attempt to disregard the position of Russia and ignore it contradicts the very basics of the UN Charter. What we need is not push forward such schemes, but try and find points of contact, no matter how hard our Western partners try to evade this, for example when ignoring our legitimate concerns with regard to NATO’s policy and actions of Western states who violated basic OSCE principles about the indivisibility of security.
In conclusion, let me say that it was not Russia that started armed action. Hostilities were initiated by Ukraine – against the people of Donbas and all those who disagreed with the military authorities. Russia is bringing this war to an end.