Remarks to the Press by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia following the UNSC meeting on Ukraine
Vassily Nebenzia: This is being planted on the ground with the help of the cluster ammunitions and armed forces of Ukraine planted it in the residential areas, in parks, streets, you name it, far from the areas where the warfare takes place. So, what is specific about that mine? It is, you see, when on the terrain, it can be of camouflage color. It is very difficult to spot, but if spotted, specifically by children, who take it perhaps as a toy because it looks plastic, they take it and immediately an explosion happens. So, that thing can seriously maim a grown-up person and kill a child easily, unfortunately.
Many examples of those maims can be seen on those photos. These are people that came into contact with this Lepestok that simply proves the methods of war that the Kiev regime is exercising. Again, I'm stressing, this is being planted in areas which have no military meaning, so to say, in residential areas. I think that there are about 47 people that have already become victims of a contact with that mine, either maimed or even killed.
We strongly advocate for condemning the Kiev regime for using these inhumane methods of warfare, which are definitely contrary to the international humanitarian law. But, they would not listen. Let's see after the demonstration, that will help our voice to be heard. Thank you very much.
Q: I am wondering we heard a lot about the impact of the conflict on the world beyond Ukraine and Russia. I am wondering what your assessment is of the grain deal. Do you see that continuing? Has Russia felt any impact of more fertilizer getting out? What is holding that up? If not, are you committed to getting Russian food and fertilizer to the market?
A: We are fully committed. One part of the the so-called grain deal, which is also being dumped as a package deal, is already being implemented. Ukrainian foreign vessels with Ukrainian grain are leaving the ports of Ukraine and reaching their destinations. The second part of the deal has not yet been realized. No Russian vessels with grain and fertilizers left the Russian seaports. And the reason for that is that not us, but those who committed to that deal, and particularly the UN, have to sort out things like financial transactions, ports of call for the vessels, as well as insurance, which has not yet been resolved. And that's why I mentioned it today in my statement that the deal lasts for 120 days and the prolongation of it will, to a large extent, depend on whether the deal is fully implemented.
Q: Mr. Ambassador, this is the sixth month anniversary today of Russia's military operation. Looking ahead, are we going to be back here in another six months for a one-year anniversary?
A: I'm not fortune teller. I will not be able to answer.
Q: What would you like to see happen?
A: I would like to see all aims and targets of the military operations that have been set by the Russian leadership implemented. And we have the negotiated solution that would end that conflict but provided and on the conditions that the goals that we said are implemented.
Q: I would like to ask you about your assessment of the UN mediation role. You criticized the United Nations Secretary-General for many things and shortcomings. What other things would you expect the United Nations to do in order to alleviate the situation and bring about peace?
A: First of all, not to aggravate it. That is the primary thing that we are looking from the United Nations for. Today, we have heard what Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo was saying during her briefing, and a lot of things that she said were not corresponding to the reality, first. And, secondly, they were, in our view, biased and clearly siding with one side of the conflict, ignoring facts that we are providing regularly and interpreting them in the way that makes it clear on which side the UN is.
Q: Six months after the military operation, it there any room for a peace process with Ukraine and is Russia ready to do some concessions?
A: Look, the peace process, the negotiation process I would say, started early in the conflict, as early as much, which led to the Istanbul meeting, where Ukrainians made proposals that were in general accepted by us, which we put on the paper in a legal form of a language and send it to them. And then we heard nothing. We heard nothing. They are not contacting, not negotiating.
President Zelensky is saying that the condition to negotiate is full Russian withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine and that he does not limit it to the current status, but to the previous one as well. Now he is saying that if there is a tribunal over the criminals from Azov in Mariupol, that will close the road to negotiations. And he lost appetite to negotiations very early in the conflict. Very early in the conflict after the heavy Western support with armaments that followed from the West. We clearly see no appetite for negotiations from him now as well, which was proved by what he was saying today at today’s meeting.
Q: The UN is saying that they are waiting for assurances from both Russia and Ukraine for the IAEA visit to take place. Is Russia ready to give those assurances? What are your conditions for this visit?
A: We said it from day one that we are prepared to give assurances for what we are responsible for. We cannot give assurances on behalf of Ukrainians given that the station is being shelled by the Ukrainian side, which is a fait accompli. Despite what they are saying about it, we cannot guarantee from their behalf. We can guarantee it on our behalf. We can provide security in an area where we are responsible.
Q: Dou you think we can have it soon, the mission?
A: The sooner the better. Hopefully, late August, early September. But that depends on the results of the negotiations between the UN, us and Ukraine.
Q: What is your opinion on this idea of a permanent presence of the IAEA?
A: I am not a nuclear specialist, but I would personally welcome it. Let's see to what the parties will agree.