Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy at an open VTC of UNSC members on the political and humanitarian situation in Syria

Mr. President,

We thank G.Pedersen and M.Lowcock for their briefings.

Facilitation of the work of the Constitutional Committee remains a priority for Russia. Its Editorial Commission needs to resume its operation in Geneva as soon as possible. The Committee must be guided by commitment to compromise and constructive interaction free of foreign interference and artificially imposed deadlines.

We agree that fragile inter-Syrian dialogue requires support, in particular through building mutual trust of the Syrian sides with regard to detainee exchange. In view of this, we regret that the Secretariat and some our colleagues, who keep fueling this topic, ignored the broad amnesty that the Syrian authorities announced on 2 May. It is about full pardon or mitigation of sentence for a wide range of perpetrators, including those who dodge conscription. This is an important step that Damascus made towards restoring public mechanisms, the need for which is often highlighted by UN experts. In recent months, we have heard repeated negative assessments of presidential elections that are underway in Syria. We will surely hear more of this today.

By doing this, our Western colleagues demonstrate indifference towards Syrians who cast their ballots. Public interest in the vote was immense, which is confirmed by long lines to the polling stations which Syrian foreign missions opened in capital cities of some countries. This apparently dissatisfies those who have already drafted Syria’s future through a particular gauge. In the end of the day, Germany banned holding that vote on its territory for good. Let me stress that this step constitutes a violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, undermines the rights and freedoms of Syrians residing abroad. Despite all obstacles, the vote took place at 46 polling stations outside Syria. Judging by the incoming reports, in Syria it also proceeds in a routine mode. Against this backdrop, we are concerned over the decision by the self-proclaimed administration of Syria’s northeast to deny assistance to Damascus in organizing the voting on its controlled territories in the northeast of the country.

I would like to emphasize again that the presidential elections in Syria run in full compliance with the effective constitution and the national legislation. They in no way contradict to the provisions of UNSC resolution 2254 and other international decisions that rest upon respect for Syria’s sovereignty.

Mr. President,

We welcome the start of vaccination campaign in Syria. As we understand, the batch of over 17,000 doses that has been delivered to NE Syria will be more than enough to cover the medical personnel working in this region. We anticipate prompt provision of related medical service to the inhabitants of IDP camps in trans-Euphrates area. We hope that the escalation of security situation in Al-Hol will not affect the humanitarian efforts and that the most vulnerable will receive their COVID-19 shots. In light of the current fuel crisis, we remain concerned over the UN logistics on the ground. We request UN OCHA to keep this issue under special control.

Mr. President,

The news about huge problems in the work of Euphrates-based water power plants that Mark Lowcock raised today is very worrisome. It is not only drinking water supply to residential areas in Aleppo, Idlib, and Al-Hasakeh that’s at stake here, but also the functioning of local irrigation facilities that water over 400 hectares of crop land. Needless to say how important it is to have access to sanitary services amidst a pandemic. ‘Alouk’ water station keeps experiencing disruptions, so if problems with water supply from the Euphrates river remain, more than 5 million people will be exposed to a humanitarian disaster.

Mark, last time you first mentioned problems that humanitarian NGOs operating in Syria encounter when trying to make bank transactions. It is our understandings that problems persist because they have a complex character. We would be interested to receive more information and concrete regular statistics as to where the situation improves and what stumbling blocks remain in this field. We expect this situation to be broadly covered by the next Secretary-General’s report on the humanitarian situation in Syria.

Let me avail of this opportunity and thank Head of the ICRC Peter Maurer for the informal briefing he delivered yesterday, and also highlight similar assessments regarding the infrastructure that M.Lowcock made today. In the Syrian context, we particularly support the point of the ICRC that restoration of critical infrastructure in Syria is an issue of paramount importance. We regret that certain donor-states keep ignoring these calls for political reasons. At the same time, we support the ICRC view that the lack of solutions at this track threatens to spread the humanitarian disaster both inside Syria, and even beyond – to the neighboring states.

Mr. President,

The indifference of our colleagues to the issue of dispatching a UN/SARC/ICRC humanitarian convoy from Damascus to Idlib is confusing. Against this backdrop, they keep promoting renewal or even extension of the cross-border mechanism (CBM). Also, our Western colleagues abstain from making judgement when it comes to the activity of terrorists who have been holding the population of this Syrian region as hostages. The West makes it clear that they are not going to take any steps to spell trouble on terrorists rooted in Idlib. They picture the CBM as the only possible solution to Idlib’s humanitarian problems. We can’t support this hypocritical position. Of course, we will have to take this into account when making a decision regarding the renewal of the CBM.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, we would like again to reiterate our readiness to provide comprehensive assistance to Syria. In total, the Russian Centre for the Reconciliation of Opposing Sides has carried out 2874 humanitarian operations and delivered over 5000 tons of humanitarian cargo.

Starting from July 2018, the Centre has restored 984 educational and 254 medical facilities, and 4,947 houses; repaired 6 road bridges and almost 2,000 km of roads; laid 1,459 km of electrical transmission lines; made operational 266 water and over 14,000 industrial facilities. At this moment, work is underway in 345 settlements in the provinces of Aleppo, Damascus, Deir ez-Zor, Latakia, Hama, Homs, As-Suwayda, Quneitra, and Raqqa.

We invite all to follow suit and help ordinary Syrians soon get back to living decent lives in their great country, which despite overt interference of third countries and illegitimate sanctions was able to give fight to the international terrorism.

Thank you.


In response to the representative of the UK:

There is a novel by English writer Willian Thackeray titled “Vanity Fair”. Today’s meeting of the Security Council saw another chapter of the novel that would be called “Hypocrisy Fair”, with our British colleague setting its general tone. Dear Jonathan [Allen, Deputy Permanent Representative of the UK], I admire your self-control and readiness to promote the most incredible scenarios, driven by loyalty to your capital. This remarkable feature of yours first struck us back in 2018, when you were telling fables about the Skripals at a Security Council meeting. By the way, since then those have remained but fables. You are the godfather of such catch phrases as “highly likely”, “there is no other plausible explanation”, “there are reasons to believe that” and so on, which have stood at the core of all British (and Western) evidence as to the acts ascribed to allegedly have been committed by Russia. I think those speculations of yours and of your colleagues from the Foreign Office have caused quite a few heart attacks with legal and international law experts across the globe, who prior to that had been used to relying on hard facts rather than baseless allegations. In this regard, you are a rather famous personality.

Today, on your last working day at the Council, you did not disappoint us. Without a taint of embarrassment, you were saying that Russia did not contribute to Syria’s recovery – despite the statistic that I cited in my statement. You keep doing this, although you know how much Russia is doing to help Syria’s revival.

Besides, you nonchalantly inquired, who would have to pay for restoring Syria’s infrastructure. To be frank, I feel a little bit awkward having to explain such obvious things, but since it’s you who is asking, I will answer. Of course, the UK, the US, France, and their Western partners have to do this. It must be done by those who did so much to ruin the country, incite a civil war there, pump it with weapons and ammunition, finance and train terrorists. It must be done by you, who now nurture the majority of remaining terrorists in Idlib, while presenting them as greatest pioneers of humanism and democracy and trying to wash the blood off their hands. By you, who struck Douma back in 2018, while allowing no time for investigation (counter to any logic or common sense) of shady events that had happened there.

This is not a kind request – this is your duty to the Syrian people, which you must pay off, so that Syrians, who have suffered so much from your hand, could try to forgive you one day. The sooner you start – the better for you.

Having said this, let me make it explicit, that I hold no grudge against you personally. You follow the instructions that come in from London. I can imagine, how hard it may be for a person like you: remarkable, smart, talented, possessing a good sense of humor and a rational mindset. Working with you here in New York was a pleasure, we will miss you. I wish to you every success in your new offices. I would very much hope that when back home, you will be able to help British foreign policy recover at least a little common sense. Good luck to you and all the best.