Remarks to the press by Chargé d'Affaires of the Russian Federation Dmitry Polyanskiy after UNSC vote on draft resolutions on renewal of the cross-border humanitarian mechanism for Syria
Dmitry Polyanskiy: I know you are impatient, that is why I decided to step in before the consultations to answer your questions and better explain our position.
Q: You said that the page had been turned. Is that it? Is Russia done with this? Are you going to engage in further negotiations?
A: Let me remind you of how it all developed. A year ago, we all made an agreement. Our understanding was based on our common position with the United States that the humanitarian efforts in Syria needed improvement. So we agreed on the text of UNSC resolution 2585. It was composed in such a way that we all waited for Secretary-General’s mid-term report after the first six months. The 2585 formula went like this, “extension of an additional six months, subject to the issuance of the Secretary General’s substantive report”. When it came to the moment that it was about to be prolonged, we said, “guys, we have some homework which we agreed to do. You failed to do this homework”. In response, we heard some absolutely opposite things that broke the trust that had emerged at the beginning of the consultations. And those things were said publicly. It was something like “whatever Russia would like to do, the resolution will be automatically extended for six more months”. It surely undermined our trust.
This year we tried to learn this lesson, and suggested a formula for six months, after which the Council would be able to say that it desired to make a further extension with the help of a resolution. So our draft contained a phrase “with a view to further extension”. What our American, British, and other colleagues are now trying to imply is that six equals to zero, and that in our proposed draft there is no will to extend this resolution further. This is totally false. My arithmetic is not too bad, and I believe that six does not equal to zero.
We learned this lesson. And so we said that we would propose a text that would take into account everything that was done wrong for the first time, reconfirm the commitment that we made one year ago and then, having a good draft text in our hands, we would all in good faith commit to extending this resolution and doing our homework. What our Western colleagues try to say now is that there is no commitment to doing this homework, even after the six months. And this is very bad.
Our Western colleagues try to paint a picture, according to which Russia is against the cross-border mechanism and against extending it. But this is totally false.
Q: A lot of your colleagues say that they would like to try and continue negotiations so agreement can be reached before the deadline on Sunday. Will Russia continue with negotiations? Are you still open to some kind of compromise?
A: If someone proposes our draft, we shall not say that this is our intellectual property. If our draft is put forward again, then why not? If this is not the case, however, I think that this page is over.
Q: The UAE and Brazil suggested nine months. Is that a starter?
Q: Then what about a six-month technical rollover?
A: Six months is not a technical rollover, it is substantial. Again, the starting point for our efforts was to improve the things that we had agreed on a year ago. This is our common commitment, and we thought it was our common homework that we needed to do. Our desire was to recommit to this homework. But our Western colleagues, when they spoke the way they did in the Council today, they clearly demonstrated that they do not care about those commitments or about this homework. Of course, this puts the whole situation in danger.
Q: Just to clarify, if any other draft is put to a vote that is not your draft, you veto it?
Q: The US Ambassador has accused Russia of killing people in Syria with this veto. She said people would die. What’s your response to that?
A: She rejected our draft. And that is her responsibility, not ours. We proposed a solution that implied a six-month renewal plus further six months, should there be a desire of the Council. In my view, six does not equal to zero. She says it does.
Q: Is the UN cross-border aid operation from Turkey to Syria dead?
A: We still have several days. As I told you, we do not mind if someone reintroduces our draft. We may be committed to it. But at this point I do not see any other option. Given the words that have been uttered today, I think it is almost impossible.
Q: Sounds like you are not open to any further negotiations on anything.
A: Yes, we are. But negotiations and solutions are two different things. I think they have a solution in hand and they know what to do. They know how to call us, we are always available.
Q: Russia has been internationally isolated over Ukraine here at the UN.
A: I am sorry, but this is wrong.
Q: Didn’t the GA vote show international isolation?
A: Last UNGA vote was on ECOSOC membership, and 118 countries supported our candidature.
Q: I am talking about GA resolutions in March that denounced Russia for invading Ukraine.
A: Then why not recall resolutions of 1948 or 1950? We are not speaking about history, but about the current state of affairs. Any further questions on the cross-border mechanism?
Q: Speaking about GA resolutions, you will have to give an explanation to the General Assembly for using the veto.
A: We will do it with pleasure. Because it will expose hypocrisy and double standards of our Western colleagues. They had a solution at hand, but they rejected it and try to blame Russia now. As Brazilian Presidency said, we had 99% of an agreement on this. But they did not acknowledge the fact that that we had to do our common homework on which we had agreed a year ago. We cannot accept the fact that they undermine this trust. This is absolutely unacceptable for Russia, and I will be very much ready to repeat it in the General Assembly.
Q: Are you disappointed that China did not vote no on the first draft resolution?
A: China is a sovereign state with its own interests. We are allies and partners respecting each other but that does not mean that we always see things eye to eye.