Statement and right of reply by Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, at the VTC of Security Council Member-States on the situation in Libya
We thank acting head of the UNSMIL Stephanie Williams for the briefing on the situation in Libya and Chair of the 1970 Sanctions Committee of the Security Council Jurgen Schulz for the report on the work of this subsidiary body.
To our regret we see how the trend to protract armed conflict is consolidating in Libya. Clashes continue in various parts of the country. Unfortunately, the level of distrust between Libyan parties is so high that it is virtually impossible to enforce a ceasefire despite calls made by many including the UN Secretary-General. Humanitarian pauses introduced separately by the Government of National Accord and the Libyan National Army were not respected.
The threat of Coronavirus has become another challenging issue in Libya, especially due to humanitarian situation on the ground and basically destroyed healthcare system.
The parties continue to exchange in aggressive rhetoric. At the same time the President of the Libyan House of Representatives Mr.Aguila Saleh called for a cessation of hostilities in connection with the Holy month of Ramadan. We note that this statement contains a number of constructive proposals on how to pull Libya out of the crisis. Among them are creation of unified bodies of power on the basis of proportional geographical representation, development of a new constitution, holding of presidential and parliamentary elections. We believe that these ideas could form a basis for political discussions in the framework of the comprehensive Libyan settlement process.
However, so far there has been no progress in military consultations in the «5+5» format and on political track. We believe that early appointment of a new Special Representative of the Secretary General can help break the deadlock in the political process. This issue is long time overdue.
We are convinced that continuation of the armed conflict will bring more disastrous consequences for Libya and its people. We urge to immediately cease hostilities and resume dialogue under the auspices of the United Nations on all three tracks of the settlement - military, political and economic. We continue efforts in this regard, including through participation in follow-up meetings of the Berlin Conference and in contacts with parties concerned. At the same time, we proceed from the principle that we have repeatedly voiced that any decisions and recommendations must be in advance agreed by the Libyans. Without this we will never reach success.
We would like to remind you of our adoption of resolution 2510. As you remember, Russia abstained, and not because we were whimsy or capricious, but because we said that without involving the protagonists this resolution would fail. In my EoV on that resolution I said publicly that if I was wrong and the resolution worked, I would be the first one to acknowledge this. Unfortunately, to my regret, I have to say that I was right.
We are concerned about reports of ongoing violations of the arms embargo in Libya. We believe that the supply of arms and mercenaries should be stopped. This practice continues in Libya from the very start of the conflict in 2011, when Libyan statehood was destroyed as a result of NATO’s illegal aggression. We are pushing Libyan parties for dialogue and the search for compromises.
We are following closely on preparations for the launch of EU military operation off Libyan coast. We one again emphasize that this operation must be in accordance with the mandate of UNSC resolution 2292. Any modification must become a subject for the SC consideration.
I already heard allegations about Russian participation in the Libyan conflict. I will reserve my right to say a few words about it after all speakers today have spoken.
Right of reply:
We hear a lot of speculations about so-called Russian mercenaries. UK representative went as far as to say this is them who are responsible for all troubles and mishaps in Libya. This is an interesting way to shift responsibility. I remind that the major reason for all Libya’s troubles today was NATO’s aggression that destroyed Libyan statehood. Today you prefer to miss the point and pretend you do not hear.
Now to the report of the Panel of Experts. First of all, we are dismayed that the confidential report of the Panel of Experts of the Sanctions Committee was leaked to the press. This is not the first time when a report of a Sanctions Committee Panel of Experts is leaked. We demand an investigation of the incident by the UN Secretariat.
We are still studying the report. However, our first reading of the text allows us to draw some conclusions. To begin with, a concept of a private military company is nowhere to be found in the Russian legislation. In their report experts interpret extracts from Russian laws incorrectly and operate them arbitrarily.
For the most part, the report is based on unverified or clearly fabricated data and is aimed at discrediting Russia's policy in Libya. Experts use sources of dubious quality that have a direct interest in the Libyan conflict. In the report a significant number - not one or two - of Internet links are not working. This can be verified by anyone who ventures to do so. And this not accidental. The reliability of the information, especially based on so-called "confidential discussions", is impossible to prove. Much of the data, especially regarding Russian citizens mentioned in the report, is simply unfounded. People, allegedly fighting in Libya, did not actually leave our country. The so-called "wounded" are quite healthy. This is all available in public space and again verifiable. It is noteworthy that the lists selected by the experts were copied from the notorious Ukrainian database “Peacemaker” or “Mirotvorets”.
Once again, there are no Russian servicemen in Libya. But we are aware that there is a host of foreign military personnel in the country, and not just FTFs. If you are desperate to hear, we can disclose the names of those countries. I assure you that you will be surprised to hear them.
A lot of mistakes or deliberate falsifications were made regarding weapons. In particular, it is not clear why the drone is attributed to Russia, although its manufactured characteristics indicate to one of the countries neighboring Russia. At the same time, equipment that has long been in Libya, is presented as newly exported from Russia.
Another fabrication are photos from Syria presented in the report as Libyan landscapes. A separate story goes about Syrian militants transported to the West of Libya to support the Government of National Accord. Deliberately or not, but these facts are turned inside out: these mercenaries associated with terrorist organizations in real life in the report turned into fighters of the Libyan National Army.
These are just visible mistakes in the report. To us it is clear: it was intended to mislead the international community about Russia’s policy in Libya. We will provide a more detailed assessment of the findings of the Panel of Experts when the right time arrives.