Remarks to the press by Ambassador V.Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, following the Security Council consultations on Syria
V.Churkin: We had a very important meeting which was called by the Russian Federation and we heard Staffan de Mistura and his ideas about dealing with situation in Eastern Aleppo. I think that those are very important and good ideas which he has been developing for some time and there is a chance that they might be implemented but for that some things need to be fleshed out and more importantly the Security Council has to rally around his proposals. At this point I am not confident that unity of the Security Council can be produced and if this is not the case that would be regrettable because I do believe that things need to be done to bring the situation in Syria out of the current stalemate and things need to be done in order to help the population of Aleppo, not just Eastern Aleppo but also Western Aleppo – this is one single city and the population is suffering.
Q: Staffan de Mistura is proposing that he in person is ready to accompany al-Nusra out of Aleppo. Do you think that this is unprecedented proposal from the UN side regarding the terrorist group?
V.Churkin: I think that Staffan de Mistura made a very courageous statement. And I think he is really feeling very strongly about it. We think that if they agree “Nusra” and maybe other fighters to leave the city it should be done in a very pragmatic and routine way because the terrorists should not be given more limelight than they deserve. They don’t deserve any. But this is a detail.
Q: Ambassador, any progress about the French draft? Do you think the unity of the Council should be around Staffan de Mistura’s proposal or French proposal?
V.Churkin: Definitely I think it should be around Staffan de Mistura’s proposal. The French proposal is very hastily put together and I frankly believe that this is designed not to make progress and take the situation out of the current stalemate and not to help Staffan de Mistura but to cause a Russian veto which I will try to explain. It is unprecedented for the members of the Council to ask a permanent member of the Security Council to limit its own activities. There are certain things which we may do or not do. We may fly or not fly. But definitely they cannot expect that we’ll go there through a demand by the Security Council. I am supposed to vote for a demand and then our military will have to comply with it. It does not mean that certain things cannot happen. But they can happen through a certain process which is definitely not putting a resolution with this kind of a text on the table. To say nothing on the fact the French draft as I explained before contains some elements which we think are really harmful. Just to bypass the current system of this working group in Geneva on cessation of hostilities with some other unidentified mechanism. Just yesterday this group met in Geneva and agreed that they should continue to exist that they are relevant that they are important along with a group on the humanitarian activities. So this is not a proposal, a draft which is right for adoption, as I say I have this suspicion that the real motive is to cause a Russian veto even though from the outset we were told by the French colleagues that this was not their intention. But unfortunately I have to get used to working under strange circumstances.
Q: Ambassador, if this resolution is put to a vote tomorrow will Russia veto?
V.Churkin: As I said I never say the word till I get the instructions. I cannot possibly see how we can let this resolution pass. I cannot possibly see. To me the most upsetting thing about it is that there are other ways of doing it. And there is an initiative which is much more important - the Staffan de Mistura’s initiative which could be fleshed out and supported by the Security Council. But if there are any domestic political ambitions they might go ahead and do it which is in my view going to be regrettable.
Q: Will Russia drop something to back de Mistura’s proposal, draft resolution?
V.Churkin: Actually there are other drafts circulated in the Security Council. I think they are sensible drafts but unfortunately those countries, those members of the Security Council, who have developed them are being sort of shackled by those who have other ideas, but I think other drafts which are out there are much more relevant and much more useful than the French draft could ever be.