Press Briefing by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia on the situation in the town of Bucha (Kiev Region) and related matters
Vassily Nebenzia: These are unprecedented times, as you know. What is also unprecedented is what happened yesterday and earlier today. It was unprecedented, unbelievable, and unthinkable. We were denied a Security Council meeting that we requested today from the British Presidency. During my time here, I had emergency meetings of the Security Council on many issues that happened on weekends, on US holidays, etc, and we never objected. What happened is something unbelievable and unprecedented in the history of the United Nations. That is a fact.
I heard today’s press conference by Ambassador Barbara Woodward. I heard questions that she was asked, and I heard answers that she gave. Frankly, some of the answers she was just not able to give. Before we have a meeting tomorrow, I would like to tell you of a few things which it is very important to get through to you – press and media. It is about what has happened recently and is happening now around Kiev.
On April 4 the Kiev regime with an active support from its Western sponsors started to promote in Western mass media fake news about alleged “atrocities” of the Russian military forces in the town of Bucha (a suburb of Kiev) in Ukraine.
From the very beginning it has been clear that this is nothing else but yet another staged provocation aimed at discrediting and dehumanizing of the Russian military and levelling political pressure on Russia. Not many of you know about the Russian military, but I assure you that Russian military is nothing that it is being accused of, in particular what regards “cruel atrocities” against civil population. It is not the case. It never was, and will never be.
We have factual evidence that proves this point. We intended to present it to the Security Council as soon as possible so that the international community is not misled by the false narrative promoted by Kiev and its Western sponsors.
To this end, the Russian Federation requested a Security Council meeting to be convened at 3 pm New York Time today on April 4 to discuss this heinous provocation by the Kiev regime.
I would like to emphasize that we did it as early as on 2.51 pm on Sunday, full 24 hours before the requested meeting, so the UK claims that we asked for a meeting “too late” are misinformation.
Our efforts have been met with the fierce opposition of the UK Presidency with the support of other Western delegations, namely the US, France, Ireland, Norway and Albania.
They tried to invent an invalid and lame pretext not to convene this meeting on Monday insisting that it should be postponed to Tuesday.
The UK Ambassador keeps claiming, and you could hear that at her press conference earlier today, that they wanted to have a more “informed” meeting with the UN Secretariat as a briefer. This is a lie. We have never objected to having a briefer on Monday, and it is the obligation of the Presidency to arrange for that. We did not request a briefer from our side. During the Russian Presidency, we duly arranged for such meetings at the request of the Western delegations, in the middle of the day or night, regardless of the complex geopolitical context and constant provocations vis-à-vis our country.
I would like to stress: the UK Presidency openly rejected our request to convene a meeting on April 4. And they did it twice. Since the situation around Bucha kept evolving overnight, today we requested an urgent Council meeting at 3 pm.
However, the Presidency took the liberty to qualify that there is no reason to convey an emergency meeting. As they put it, the UK does not believe that the situation in Bucha is calling for immediate attention of the Security Council.
This is a unilateral assertion of the UK Presidency, not a decision of the Council members. You can see clearly now what a "rules-based order" promoted by the UK and other Western countries means in real life. It means them imposing rules that are comfortable to them with total disregard for the international law and the established UNSC rules of procedure.
This behavior is very illustrative and reveals true attitude of the West to the Ukrainian people. While blocking the discussion on Bucha, where we see a clear-cut provocation in classical Goebbels’s style, risking to have serious implications for the international peace and security, the Western delegations rushed to convene a Security Council meeting on the education for girls in Afghanistan some time ago. You can see what their real priorities are.
The reason why the Western delegations do this is very simple. It would not benefit Western cause if the Security Council meeting was convened by Russia, because this would shake the anti-Russian narrative that they are comfortably promoting. The Western delegations prefer to “blend in” the situation in Bucha with the discussion of the humanitarian situation at the meeting they convene tomorrow, to shift the focus away from the staged provocation by the Kiev regime. To this end, the UK by its own discretion added our agenda item to tomorrow’s briefing. We have never approved that. It is yet another illustration of their behavior.
I would like to recall Rule 2 of the Provisional rules of Procedure of the Security Council. It is explicit that the Presidency should call for a meeting at the request of any member of the Security Council.
What we see now is a shameful and unprecedented abuse by the UK of the President’s prerogatives. At the same time, this is a demonstration of weakness showing that the Western delegations had to resort to this maneuvering to shut Russia’s voice. It only proves the point that Western delegations care neither about the real situation in Bucha, nor about the Council authority.
Abusive, condescendent, colonialistic line of the UK Presidency is undermining the very foundations of the UN, and we will yet have to assess the implications.
The Presidency is entrusted by the Charter to lead the Security Council. The UK failed to lead. It is a disgrace for the British diplomacy and an undeniable stain on its reputation.
Given negligence of the UK Presidency, we decided to convene this press conference to shed light on the Western-backed provocation of the Kiev regime in Bucha.
I would like to present to you the real facts about Bucha.
During the time that the town has been under the control of the Russian armed forces, not a single local resident has suffered from any violent action.
For as long as the town was under the control of the Russian armed forces locals were moving freely around the town and using cellular phones. So they could post on social media any photo and video footage of any theoretical “harassment” if this were the case. However, that did not happen.
Let me address the developments in chronological order.
On March 30, following another round of talks in Ankara, Russian Ministry of Defense announced the withdrawal of forces from a number of regions, including Bucha.
That fact was confirmed the next day by the mayor of Bucha. In his video of March 31 Anatoly Fedoruk presented the withdrawal of Russian forces as a victory of Ukrainian Army. Interestingly, he had not mentioned any mass atrocities, dead bodies, killings, graves or anything like that. It is hard to imagine that a city mayor can “forget” to address such a devastating scenario.
Let me show you the video posted by Mr. Fedoruk. As you will see, he looks happy and smiling. It is hard to imagine that he is acting like this against the backdrop of “massacre” in the streets. That’s in Ukrainian, but as I said, he is very happy that Russian troops withdrew, which he regards as a great victory of the Ukrainian army. He makes no mentioning of any atrocities in the city.
This video was posted on “Ukraine 24” channel on the 1st of April. I would like to stress - nothing about “atrocities” was revealed on April 1st.
Let me also show a photo of Zhan Belenyuk, a deputy of the Ukrainian parliament, who, according to his reports in social media, visited Bucha after regaining control by the Ukrainian government. As you can see, he is also smiling. He is joyful. In his reports he mentions no dead bodies. Not a single reference to “atrocities”.
On April 2nd the National Guard of Ukraine posted on official resources a video from Bucha. Let me show you the footage. The video captures members of Ukrainian armed forces entering Bucha. The footage shows no dead bodies in the streets. The Ukrainian military interviewed several people in different locations across the town. None of them said a word about any “massacre” or mass killings. Camera also captures background behind these people, with no dead bodies in sight.
To sum it up, there are no reports of atrocities which are accredited to the Russian military in Bucha, which happened before the Ukrainian army took control of the town. Four days after the Russian military left the city of Bucha there was not a single sign of any “atrocities”. I repeat – not a single reference to it, anywhere.
The infamous video depicting bodies on the city roads only appeared on April 3rd. It is full of discrepancies and blatant lies. According to its authors, the bodies were lying on the streets for at least 4 days by the time the video was filmed. However, the bodies are not stiffened. How is that possible? It is against the law of biology. The bodies do not have signs of decomposition known to forensic experts, including cadaver stains. The wounds contain no blood.
Another point illustrating that this video is fake.
The Ukrainian forces use either blue or yellow armlets or stripes. Because members of Ukrainian militia do not always wear military uniforms, local civilians in Bucha wore white stripes on their upper arms when the Russian forces were stationed in Bucha. That was done to prevent misidentification of civilians from members of militia. When the Ukrainian forces entered the town, they fired at the people with white stripes, killing the civilians. There is a video showing a conversation between members of Ukrainian units. It was published in social media by the so-called “territorial defense” – a radical nationalist fighting group. One of the radicals asks if he can shoot at the people without blue stripes. The other confirms that this is permissible.
Russian speakers know that, but let me translate for the rest of you:
Question behind the scene – «There are folks without blue bands, can I shoot them?»
Answer: «Of course».
I hope the evidence we demonstrated today leaves you with no illusion that the video circulated by the Kiev regime is a crude forgery. It does not stand any scrutiny. However, some Western leaders, for example German Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, and of course British Foreign Minister Liz Truss have already lined up to promote this false narrative.
What happened in Bucha is exactly a false flag attack by the Kiev regime and its Western sponsors. The possible goal of this provocation is horrifying and brings back the nightmares of the Nazi crimes during the Second World War.
Vladimir Zelensky, once he arrived in Bucha, hinted that this “incident” justifies any “uncivilized response”. By this basically he confirmed that the Kiev regime considers genocide as a method of warfare. Now the nationalists have a pretext to commit a real massacre of innocent Ukrainian people executing them as “traitors”. We want the world to stay alert and we call on the Council not to let these horrific cleansing to happen.
To conclude I would like to reiterate that the Russian military forces act in strict compliance with international humanitarian law and do not target civilians and civilian objects. If we were pursuing aggressive goals, like those of the US-led coalition in Iraq, the scale of losses and devastation would be worse by digits. Like in Raqqa and Mosul that were bombed by the US to ashes, killing thousands of civilians, including women and children, whose bodies were left unburied for weeks and even months.
You will hear more from me tomorrow, because more information is coming. I think that the truth about what happened in Bucha will reveal itself very soon.
Q: A Security Council meeting did not take place because Great Britain said no. The United States intends to pursue Russia’s suspension from the UN Human Rights Council. Do you think these actions can undermine the negotiations efforts for a humanitarian ceasefire? What are the next steps you are planning here at the UN?
A: Of course, Human Rights Council is not our piece of cake, so to say. We are in another format. But I think that this is again unbelievable what the West and the rest are trying to do with Russia today, trying to exclude it from whatever multilateral forums we have in the world.
So in response to what you are saying, I think yes they can. This is, again, unprecedented. And this will not facilitate, encourage or be helpful for what is happening at Russian-Ukrainian peace talks.
Q: On the other side, the Ukrainians have presented footage of people who have said that their loved ones have been killed by Russian troops – civilians not doing anything. As for the footage that's been shown. We've seen a little bit that you've shown, but do you consider that the statements of these women and family members who've watched their own loved ones being killed by Russian troops are fake?
A: This is a warfare. And in warfare, anything happens. You cannot exclude that civilians may die. That is a sad fact of life. But the footage that we are being presented with, in particular in Bucha, of which I spoke, does not give us any doubt that it was staged. We will present more evidence on that tomorrow when we speak in the Security Council.
Q: I'd like to ask you one follow-up question. Ukrainian Prosecutor General Irina Venedictova today told Ukrainian television that the situation in a town called Borodyanka may be worse than Bucha in terms of people who have been found killed. That town was also occupied by Russian forces until recently. Do you know anything about that?
A: Frankly, no. I just hear from you as you speak.
Q: My question is about Bucha. There are pictures. There's eyewitness evidence. What are you saying about how this happened? And you did show us pictures of two pregnant women who were fake photos, and we saw one of them give birth and we saw the other one die. Do you believe that the pictures and the story you're getting right now and telling us are true about Bucha?
A: I just saw a footage today on the Russian television of the lady that gave birth in Mariupol. She admitted that it had been a fake. She's an Ukrainian blogger named Mariana. She admitted that it was a fake, that she was made to make that footage.
Now, to what you see in the streets of Bucha. The corpses had never existed before the departure of Russian troops, and then suddenly appeared in the streets, lying on the road one by one, right and left. If you look carefully, you will see that some of them are moving. Some of them are showing signs of life. You cannot escape from an understanding that this is staged, that it is a fake and a provocation. Because, as you all know, besides the warfare, we have a raging information war. And we have evidence that it was premeditated and arranged by the Ukrainian information warfare machine.
Q: Therefore, you're blaming the Ukrainians for actually putting these bodies there?
A: One thing you cannot deny is that Ukrainians are using people as a human shield when they hide behind them in residential buildings, which they use to call fire on themselves.
Q: The second woman who was pregnant, by the way, did die.
A: If that is the case, I'm sorry for her. I really am. You may believe me.
Q: But part of the question is then the bigger picture. Martin Griffith just came from Moscow. Is there any possibility of a ceasefire?
A: And the question is, from which hands she died. They claimed that it was a Russian airstrike, while the evidence shows that the building had not had an air strike, but rather an explosion.
On Martin Griffiths and the resolution. We offered a resolution last week, which they rejected. They said no because “Russia as an aggressor” cannot offer anything. We are trying to get people out of cities and provide them with free evacuation, which they also deny. They say “no, Ukrainians can only leave to the West, they cannot live to Russia, they have no right to do so”. They say so despite the fact that half a million Ukrainians are already in Russia. And believe me, there is no xenophobia to Ukrainians in Russia. There has never been any, despite what is happening with Russians around the globe today. I'm grateful to the Americans that they are not up to that. But look at what is happening in Europe, at how they treat Russians only because they have Russian passports. That is incredible. That is unbelievable. I leave aside the issue of sanctions, which are beyond any understanding, but the way they are treating Russians in Europe is something that goes beyond any understanding.
Q: Would Russia, for example, welcome an independent investigation? You talk about the misinformation wars, the fog of war. It's difficult to understand who's giving you facts and who's not. Right. So would you agree to an independent mechanism to investigate the atrocities that we both can agree are happening in Ukraine? And then a second part, what is so egregious about the 24 hours delay? To help us understand, this meeting that you requested for today is happening tomorrow. So what is so outrageous about this delay?
A: The question is who is doing the so-called independent investigation. We've seen lots of independent investigations which were not independent at all because they were politically motivated, biased, etc.
As for the meeting, their aim and the idea is absolutely clear. They do not want to let us present our views, and want to go ahead with their own interpretation of the situation. But by tomorrow many things may come to surface which they wouldn't like to hear. So perhaps they lost time when they did not have this meeting today and postponed it until tomorrow.
Not just in my memory here, but in the procedure, tradition, and rules of the Security Council, I cannot recall a case when the Presidency would deny a country a meeting whenever it wants to. If that's an emergency meeting, the Council should meet in 3 hours after the announcement. I've been in this situation many times over myself.
I listened to the briefing today and I heard the question that you asked to [Ambassador] Barbara [Woodward]. She never answered to it. I mean we've been accused of atrocities, we are being accused of not observing the rules of warfare, etc, but what did she answer when you asked her about Raqqa and Mosul? She just evaded. She went sideways. Anyway, let's see what happens tomorrow. Tomorrow you will hear more from us. I promise that I will be even more factual than today.