Remarks to the Press by First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy following Security Council's AOB discussion of chemical provocations in Ukraine
Dmitry Polyanskiy: On Russian initiative, Security Council discussed today under the AOB the threat of chemical provocations in Ukraine.
To our deep regret, our predictions about Ukrainian radical nationalist groups preparing to stage chemical provocations on the territories under their control are coming to life.
In the evening of 21 March, a planned provocation of Ukrainian nationalists was carried out in Sumy resulting in ammonia leak at Sumyhimprom plant. According to Sumy regional administration, there is neither risk to the residents of Sumy, since the air masses were moving "off wards the city”, nor casualties.
We have warned the international community about such provocations on numerous occasions, both in the OPCW and in the UN Security Council. Yet on 10 March we submitted to the Council a non-paper on several scenarios of false-flag chemical provocations by the Ukrainian radicals that they are preparing to stage with assistance of the Western intelligence and private military companies in order to accuse Russia of allegedly using "chemical weapons".
We specifically warned about the planned provocation by radicals at the Sumyhimprom chemical plant as early as on March 19. Our Ministry of Defense reported at the open briefing that the nationalists mined storage facilities with ammonia and chlorine in order to poison the residents of Sumy region if the Russian Armed Forces enter the city.
We also warned that the Ukrainian militants have brought containers with toxic chemical substances to the primary school building in the village of Kotlyarovo in the Nikolaev region. They are planned to be blown up when the Russian Armed Forces approach.
The statements by the Kiev regime that the above-mentioned plant was “shelled” by the Russian Armed Forces are no more than a fake and deliberate disinformation to cover up their actions that endanger the lives of civilians.
We would like to reiterate that the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation have never planned or carried out strikes against any Ukrainian facilities where toxic substances are stored or produced. The Russian Army ensures security of such objects on the territories liberated from radical groups.
We are deeply concerned by the recent developments in Sumy as well as in other regions with regard to chemical provocations staged by the Ukrainian nationalist groups. Given the record of negligence by the Kiev regime of the Biological Weapon Convention, by developing of a military biological program with the help of the USA, as well as its pursuit of nuclear weapons, it is clear that the Ukrainian nationalist authorities encouraged by the Western countries will stop at nothing to intimidate its own people and stage false-flag attacks to accuse Russia.
We see a familiar pattern in Ukraine which is similar to orchestrated chemical incidents in Syria, which were staged by terrorist groups with the help of the Western intelligence and notorious NGOs like the “White Helmets” and used as a pretext to accuse Syrian authorities of the use of chemical weapons.
There is alarming evidence that more chemical provocations by the radicals in Ukraine, which put lives and health of civilians at risk, are to follow. In the course of special military operation, our Military of Defense has obtained the combat documentation of the 4th Brigade of the Ukrainian National Guard with a map with coordinates of all objects where toxic substances are stored or produced on the territory of Ukraine, as well as the data on the types of specific substances. I want to stress that the Kiev nationalist regime, along with its sponsors, will be directly responsible and held accountable for any possible incidents with Ukrainian storage facilities of toxic substances.
Q: The West and the United States have vehemently denied that there are any chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, and so have the Ukrainians. The US and other Western nations have said that they believe that Russia’s repeated warnings about this are a false-flag operation to launch chemical and biological weapons in Ukraine. What is your response to this?
A: Facts prove otherwise. We conducted two meetings of the Security Council on biological laboratories in Ukraine. We presented evidence (more is to come) that the United States was implementing a secret biological weapons program with the help of Ukrainians. Sometimes Ukrainians were not even aware of what they were doing. There are hundreds of US labs all over the world and we do not know what’s happening there. The documents that we obtained, unfortunately they render us more and more pessimistic. Again, there is more to come on biolabs.
As for chemical weapons, I think one should not forget that Russia got rid of its chemical weapons, which was confirmed by the OPCW. Actually, the only country that still officially possesses chemical weapons is the United States. The US has a long record of using CWs – just remember Viet Nam. I understand that the memory of our American colleagues is usually limited to the 4 years of the current administration, but the world’s memory is much deeper than that. That’s why we have all the reasons to be cautious.
We speak of concrete facts of Ukrainian nationalists using ammonia as a possible weapon. The facts are in front of you. The citizens of Sumy know that it happened. It’s not a problem to detect a possible strike on this facility, which was not the case. So it is a proven fact that our Western colleagues are waging a disinformation campaign against Russia.
Q: Why now? Why do you come to talk about alleged use of potential CW by the Ukrainians? Do you think such an attack in Ukraine is imminent? And what is your response to Secretary-General’s remarks this morning that this war is unwinnable and it’s better for Russia just to come to the table right now than later?
A: This provocation happened in the night of 21 March. We warned about it on 19 March and before. We warned specifically about this plan. That’s why I am here presenting these facts to you now and warning that there might be more chemical provocations to come and that they will try to blame it on Russia.
As for Secretary-General’s words, of course war is bad. But if you listened attentively to what we said when giving the reasons why this operation had started, you would understand that it started to end another war, which had continued for 8 years. All other options were exhausted, and there was no other way to secure that people and civilian infrastructure in the east of Ukraine stop suffering from Ukrainian shelling. So my leadership made this decision.
Q: Could you please give us an update on the humanitarian resolution [on Ukraine]? Are you planning to go for a vote tomorrow?
A: Yes, we are.
Q: And on the South African draft that is circulating now for the General Assembly?
A: I am not a South African, I cannot speak on their behalf.
Q: Are you coordinating with them at all on it?
A: Absolutely not.
Q: Ambassador Nebenzia had a phone call with members of the non-alignment movement today. Was that on this resolution?
A: No, it was to explain our position. We do it regularly, and not only on this occasion. When working at the United Nations, I think it’s normal to explain your position to wider membership. That’s what we are doing.
Q: Given your concern about biological weapons, would you agree to a cessation of hostilities if the UN were to investigate and look into these facilities? Would Russia welcome that?
A: We proposed a UNSC draft resolution that will be voted tomorrow. It will be a good chance to see if our Western colleagues really care about the things that they promote in their statements, because they are all in our resolution. We’ll see whether they are serious about it or whether it is just a false flag for them.
Q: Western nations have been clear that they will not support your draft in the Council, so there is an expectation that it would fail. In the General Assembly, there are two drafts: one from Western nations, one from South Africa. Would you support any of the two in the GA?
A: If Western nations do not support our draft, this will be a reflection of their hypocrisy, because speaking is one thing, and taking a decision is another thing. Everyone understands that in order to help humanitarian agencies, the Security Council has to say its position and give them some instructions. That’s what we propose, without any politicizing, as in any other humanitarian resolution that Security Council has ever adopted. We do not understand why people would say one thing, but act differently.
As for the two humanitarian resolutions, frankly speaking, we do not know what is the added value of humanitarian resolutions by the General Assembly. We do not want them, especially the Western draft, to turn into another anti-Russian biased document. We do not think we need such documents. So we will define our position on these premises.
Q: The UN, which is working on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, is asking for an immediate cessation of hostilities. Is Russia willing to do this without a UNSC resolution?
A: I can repeat my answer. Russia puts forward a draft to UNSC that introduces a negotiated ceasefire.
Q: And without a resolution?
A: I explained the reasoning already. We started this military operation to pursue certain aims and stop the war in the east of Ukraine. We need to continue to implement these aims, because otherwise the war will never end. It was an illusion that there had been no war for 8 years. One tried to disregard it, but war was happening. Ask people in the east of Ukraine and you will see a lot of evidence that the war was going on and causing casualties, including children. It is not that things get resolved if we declare a ceasefire tomorrow. There is a need for a more serious and complex solution, and we are trying to do this.
Q: President Zelensky said recently that he is ready to talk and consider the status of Crimea and Donbas. He also spoke about the option of not joining NATO. Are these insurances to your country which is doing this military operation?
A: We heard a lot of statements from President Zelensky, some of them contradicting the others. There is a team of my colleagues who deal with negotiating with the Ukrainian side and who assess whether they are serious or not about discussing real things. So far, they are not very much enthusiastic about the approach of the Ukrainian side.
Q: They say 10,000 Russian soldiers have been killed. Do you know how many have died?
A: I have seen different figures. Our Ministry of Defense provides updates on this that you can look up. But this is far from what you are saying. Do not believe everything that is said on the Internet. Unfortunately, that does not reflect what is happening.
Q: Is the regime change your only goal in Ukraine?
A: Regime change was never our aim. What we want is to denazify Ukraine, but we were saying from the very beginning that Zelensky still remains President of Ukraine.