Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at the plenary meeting of 73rd session of the General Assembly on agenda item 67
At the outset I want to say, that the title proposed, or rather imposed, for this meeting is deliberately misleading. If there is anyone occupying the territory of Ukraine today, this is the Maidan authorities who are under external guidance. As for the Crimea, I am not even going to talk about it today. The Crimea is a part of Russia. This issue has been closed forever by the Crimeans themselves. Ukrainian authorities and personally President Poroshenko have turned the slogan of Russia’s “aggression, annexation and occupation” to their political motto. With it, they “threaten the world” and incite hatred to Russia in their own country. They have no disdain for offenses that they address to the Russian leadership and people.
This has become, if you will, a signature style of Ukrainian authorities and of President Poroshenko personally. It is a pity you cannot listen to it and understand it in the original. Many things get lost in translation. The Ukrainian leadership demonstrates a style of communication consisting of marketplace vocabulary and apparently tries to present to the world their “European civilized manner”, that they are so proud of, and their difference from the “uncultured Moscovia”.
When elected in 2014, President Poroshenko proclaimed himself a “president of peace” and promised to put an end to the war in Donbass. No sooner had the global community got used to this announcement than he turned to a “president of war”. This war still goes on. We regret to say it, but wherever President Poroshenko goes, a strong smell of gunpowder follows him. This is the gunpowder of fratricidal war. Let me remind: it was not Donbass that marched on Kiev. It was the “knights of the Ukrainian army” as President Poroshenko puts it, who attacked Donbass. It was their guns that fired at the residential quarters of Donetsk and other cities. And it was the peaceful Ukrainian population that perished under that fire.
The slogan of “Russian aggression” is very convenient for Kiev to justify for their action and the lack of such. Yet here is the problem: On 12 February we asked a direct question to the head of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine Ambassador E.Apakan, and he had to admit – there are no regular Russian troops in Donbass. Apparently, President Poroshenko has not been briefed about the results of the UNSC Meeting held on 12 February regarding the fourth anniversary of the Minsk Agreements. In this context his words “truly twisted reality” gain a new, absolutely opposite sense. Russian aggression is something Kiev uses to substitute notions and “treat” the Western sponsors who sometimes stand far from understanding the events, their genesis and subtleties or, on the contrary, who understand everything but cunningly pretend not to.
Today it is very fashionable to say that Russia is “highly likely” guilty of everything. No proof of this is needed. Now this provision and this statement have become part of President Poroshenko’s election campaign that has reached the premises of the General Assembly.
Whereas the real impediment to peace in Ukraine is the lies disseminated by the Kiev authorities and their blatant rejection to implement the Minsk Agreements. To put it more precisely: the unwillingness of Kiev authorities to talk to their own population. Why has this population risen up? In order to understand this, especially against the lies and propaganda produced in Kiev and spread by the West, one should look back and see what the Ukrainian crisis had really started with.
Let me remind you the succession of events that took place five years ago.
In October 2013, President Yanukovych carefully analyzed the text of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU and took extra time to make up his mind and decide if this agreement had been appropriate.
However, on 13 November 2013 the opposition in Ukraine promised they would start mass protests if the leadership of the country failed to sign this agreement on Association with the EU.
On 21 November, mass protests began in the center of Kiev.
On 30 November, the police already had to clash with fighters of the nationalist group “Right Sector” (organization that was later prohibited in Russia).
On 1 December, the “peaceful protestors” started to attack governmental buildings, joined by the European diplomats: Vice President of the European Parliament Jacek Protasiewicz, former President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek, former Head of the government of Poland, leader of the party “Law and Justice” Aleksander Kaczyński.
On 9 December, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton and the US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland arrived in Kiev. In the morning the latter visited Maidan where she handed out bread and pastries. Later on during the International Conference on Ukraine she openly stated that since Ukraine became independent the US had allocated $5 bln to support “the development of democratic institutions, civil society and state governance” in Ukraine.
On 25 January 2014, President Yanukovych started negotiations with the opposition.
On 19-20 February, large-scale clashes began in Kiev, many people were killed and wounded, i.a. at the hands of snipers whose personalities are still unknown. Prior to that the nationalists had captured armory warehouses and military bases. Those who were killed by the snipers were called “the heavenly hundred” and symbolized the victims of V.Yanukovych’s regime. However today there is enough evidence to prove that those people became victims of terrible provocations by Maidan backers, who needed some “ritual blood” to ignite the people’s wrath and attract supporters.
On 21 February, V.Yanukovych and the leaders of opposition, in the presence of the guarantors – Foreign Ministers of Germany and Poland and the Head of the Continental Europe Directorate of French Foreign Ministry – signed a landmark “Agreement on settlement of political crisis in Ukraine”.
However, the next day the leaders of the radical opposition, incl. the aforementioned Right Sector, refuse to recognize the agreement and start a new attack on the governmental facilities in violation of para. 5 of this document. Having encountered a life threat, V.Yanukovych had to leave Kiev, because he had little trust in the guarantees of his personal security.
The effects of Maidan, which is today known in Ukraine as a “Revolution of Dignity”, were a total surprise for ordinary Ukrainians. The people did not immediately realize that they had witnessed to a coup d’état.
Let us have a look at those events from the prospective of Russian-speaking people (who account for no less than 40% of Ukraine’s population). What did they hear while trying to make it through the changeful political situation?
One day after the coup, the new authorities revoked the Law on two languages.
Even before that, on 20 February 2014, Maidan nationalists set fire on a bus full of activists going from Odessa to Kiev to support the legitimate authorities.
On 25 February, nationalists of the Right Sector promised to curb any signs of separatism in the country. For that purpose they launched the so called “Train of Friendship” with the slogan “Crimea will either be part of Ukraine or empty”. And these are only separate episodes.
Citizens of Odessa, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkov and other cities started to think of their own safety, self-identity and the right to speak and be educated in their native language and respect their history.
With the example of Maidan in front of their eyes, the activists of the Eastern regions began to attack administrative facilities. In case with V.Yanukovych, the US Vice President J.Baiden almost begged him not to use force against the peaceful population, but when O.Turchynov came to power, he immediately ordered the South-Eastern cities to stop protests and threatened to use military force against them. He did so despite the fact that protestors in the South-East did not act like those in Kiev: they never ran people over with bulldozers and did not throw stones and “Molotov cocktails” at the policemen. On 14 April, a decree was signed that gave start to the so called antiterrorist operation. The usurpers of power in Kiev proclaimed their population to be terrorists. Now there are no such left – only the “Russian aggressors”.
Who of you remember that then followed the events in the Odessa Trade Union House, where on 2 March 2014 nationalists burnt about fifty people alive just because they disagreed with the ideals of the new Kiev authorities? This heinous crime has not yet been investigated.
The same day the storm of Slavyansk began. It was the occasion on which O.Turchynov said: “I will not rest until this city is wiped out of existence.”
On 14-15 October in Kiev, Kharkov, Odessa and a number of cities in Ukraine neo-nationalists organized torchlight processions, where they carried Nazi symbols. The meetings did not pass without quoting Hitler.
Members of Parliaments of the South-Eastern regions met in Kharkov as early as on 22 February 2014 in order to find a political way out. The main message of the meeting was to protect the territorial integrity of Ukraine by means of federalization. However, after the events that I spoke about the population of the South-East realized with all the clarity that no peaceful talks would be possible with such authorities in Kiev.
And so it happened – regular troops, volunteer hit squads of nationalists and radicals were sent to put down the peaceful population. A civil war began.
Since 12 February 2015, we have been having the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements. Noone argues that this document is the basis for the settlement. As well as no one can argue that Russia is never mentioned in this document. To prove this we have distributed handouts that show the violations of the Minsk Package committed by the Ukrainian authorities. We are ready to share it with whoever would like to read it.
Kiev rejects any direct dialogue with people living in the South-East and substitutes it for slogans about mythical Russian occupation. Authorities of Ukraine supported by Washington blatantly ignore and sabotage the Package of Measures. This situation is at best illustrated by the fact that on 5 February the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine started criminal proceedings against one of the leaders of the Ukrainian opposition V.Medvedchuk who had decided to run for the elections to be held on 31 March 2019.
The reason for this prosecution was his call for the direct dialogue between Kiev and Donbass and special status for Donbass within Ukraine – steps enshrined in the Minsk Package of Measures. In other words, the implementation of the Minsk Agreements in today’s Ukraine equals to a treason and entails criminal prosecution.
Let me remind that V.Medvedchuk is also an official representative of Kiev in the Minsk Contact Group. Here is what he stated recently: “I am convinced that under these authorities there can hardly be something that can change in the context of implementation of the Minsk Agreements. Whatever power wins at the elections; it should solve the main problem – establish peace and stop military action.”
President Poroshenko in his usual manner has just turned the situation with the prospective UN peacekeeping mission in Donbass head over toes. He forgot to mention that it was Russia who proposed the relevant draft resolution. However, Ukraine and its Western sponsors were not satisfied with that because this draft resolution was fully compliant with the Minsk Agreements. Kiev’s task is the opposite – to sabotage the Minsk process; which Ukraine’s president mentioned through his teeth and only once today.
Donbass, just like the Crimea by the way, has been suffering under a total economic, transportation and energy blockade for several years by now. In such circumstances, Russia cannot but help the population of the South-East of Ukraine survive. That is why we send humanitarian convoys there. That is why they use Russian rouble. Kiev gives Donbass no other opportunity to live a normal life.
Otherwise, everything would be like President Poroshenko said on 14 November 2014: “We will have work – they won’t. We will have pensions – they won’t. We will care for our children and pensioners – they won’t. Our children will go to school, to kindergartens – their children will wit in cellars. They don’t know how to organize or do anything. This, ultimately, is how we will win this war.”
I would like to ask the Europeans present in this hall who promote the values of diversity: Is it normal to threaten those who have different political views and cultural traditions with the use of military force?
I hope that after this brush up you will ultimately dispel any doubts that Kiev openly juggles the information in order to mislead you. This misconception prevents you from making a correct diagnosis for Ukraine’s conflict. The cost of such a medical error is human lives. The settlement will not progress until you prescribe the correct treatment and stop encouraging Kiev’s sabotage.
In other words, the Kiev authorities should start talking with their people. At the end of November President Poroshenko’s rating stood at less than 5%. However thanks to a number of provocations, including the ones in the Kerch Strait, the religious schism with a blatant interference of state in the affairs of church, a row of deceitful statements underpinned by groundless and loutish accusations of Russia, - thanks to all of this the rating went up as high as to10%.
The premises of the General Assembly is nothing else but a campaign platform for him. We will see what the today’s meeting will add to his rating (if anything at all). By the way, the Ukrainian authorities did not just stop the access of Russian observers to the presidential elections, which already ran counter to their OSCE obligations. What they did is they deprived 3,5 mln Ukrainians who live in Russia of their right to vote. As well as 4 mln people living in Donbass. What do you think, for whom would these residents of Ukraine vote? Or rather, for whom would they not?
Ukraine is a classic example of external interference and geopolitical engineering, the technique of which the collective West has mastered and which they are using today in Venezuela. In Ukraine’s case, it is even more pleasant to do this, because this time the main figure on the geopolitical chessboard is Russia.
For us the Ukrainian conflict is pain. For Western strategists it is endless joy, because the worse for Russia – the better and happier for you. Ukraine plunges into deep political chaos, lawlessness, corruption, blatant aggressive nationalism. Discrimination of language, educational, cultural rights and freedoms of the Russian-speaking population and Ukraine’s national minorities is unprecedented. Legal nihilism that reigns in Ukraine does not encounter any proper reaction of the Western sponsors; it encourages the ruling regime to take new antidemocratic steps, violate moral norms and defy civilized behavior.
This is the picture that we have.