Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Ambassador Vassily A. Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Security Council meeting on the situation in Ukraine

Russia insisted that today’s meeting be held as an open briefing, because we want everybody to hear the truth.

On 31 August Mr. Alexander Zakharchenko, the leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic, died in a terrorist attack. His signature was on the Minsk agreements and his death has had a negative impact on the settlement of the crisis. It is clear that his murder was designed to destabilize the situation in the region.

There is strong evidence to suggest that the Ukrainians were involved in his murder, and that is fully consistent with Kyiv’s confessed logic of dealing with its internal crisis by force. Our Western colleagues have not expressed any views on the crime and today were too afraid to give the floor to the republics’ representatives, who could have informed the Council about the progress of the investigation.

On 11 November, elections are due to be held to elect the Republics’ leaders and deputies to the people’s councils, owing to the need to fill the power vacuum left by Mr. Zakharchenko’s murder. As far as the elections’ legitimacy is concerned, they have nothing to do with the Minsk package of measures, which covers municipal elections. It is simply that people need to live and make their region habitable in the current circumstances, with a blockade by Kyiv and the Ukrainian leadership’s constant threats of the use of force. The situation in south-eastern Ukraine remains volatile.

Kyiv is not adhering to the ceasefire agreements and has moved at least 15 kilometres farther into the so-called grey zone. It is obstinately refusing to fulfil its political commitments, trying to marginalize the mechanisms of the Trilateral Contact Group and launch a second round of discussions on matters that have already been agreed. Its Western partners are encouraging that, declaring, like Kurt Volker, that there is no place under the Minsk agreements for the proclaimed Donbas republics and that they should not exist. And President Poroshenko declares that there is no Minsk format. What sort of reaction are we to expect from Donbas to such rhetoric?

Today we witnessed yet another round of hypocrisy. Kyiv’s total, shameless and prolonged sabotage of the Minsk agreements practically from day one has been completely ignored. Instead of admitting that fact, the discussion in the Security Council is about the elections coming up in November, which represent an essential measure considering the circumstances of Kyiv’s sabotage of its political obligations, when the people of Donbas — who are Ukrainian citizens, by the way — have been abandoned by the Ukrainian authorities. We discussed the situation in Ukraine in the Security Council at the end of May (see S/PV.8270).

At the time, in this Chamber, we laid out the details, point by point, of the content of the Minsk agreements, which some people here never tire of calling on Russia to implement. Every item in the package of measures is about Ukraine and the militias, and none of them has to do with Russia. And Ukraine has not implemented a single one of them. For two years now Kyiv has refused to consolidate the Steinmeier formula that the Ukrainian President signed on to, specifying the procedure for implementing the package of measures, including the holding of elections.

And yet we are constantly being told that Kyiv is allegedly implementing the agreements. References are made to the Verkhovna Rada’s enactment and recent extension of a law on Donbas’s special status. But has anyone here read further down the law than its title? We have repeatedly appealed to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to conduct a comparative analysis of the Minsk package and this law, since it is completely obvious that it contradicts it. Unlike the Minsk package, the law was developed without the consent of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics and the special status it creates is only temporary. Its entry into force is conditional on the implementation of other steps that violate the carefully established sequence in the Minsk agreements.

The amendments to the Constitution on decentralization have been indefinitely postponed, and the amnesty law has not entered into force. It is the European Union and the United States that are to blame for the Kyiv authorities’ non-compliance with the Minsk agreements. They keep telling us that the anti-Russian sanctions will be lifted when the Minsk agreements are implemented. And as long as those currently in power in Kyiv are not implementing them, that position represents an invitation to Ukraine to continue sabotaging the Minsk agreements, since it is Russia that will have to pay for it. And Kyiv is happy to take advantage of that. The same goes for the elections.

Kyiv has done nothing to implement the political parts of the Minsk package, including the election provisions, but it protests when the people of Donetsk start preparing to fill the vacuum created by Zakharchenko’s murder. A feature of our Western colleagues is that they prefer not to hear anything that does not suit them or that they do not like. That also applies to the package of measures for implementing the Minsk agreements.

We urge everyone once again to read the actual document, which is an aid to understanding. Our Western colleagues were political and financial sponsors of the so-called revolution of honour, or rather, the coup d’état, something they do not like to hear. They were the guarantors of the agreement signed between Yanukovych and the opposition, which the opposition immediately violated when it seized power. They do not like to hear about that either. They prefer to go on about Russian aggression and the Russian military presence, which Alexander Hug, the Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, did not observe.

True, he was immediately disavowed and that part of his interview was simply deleted. The problem is that they have given the Ukrainian authorities carte blanche. They close their eyes to everything that goes on there. They let them do and say whatever they please, and the Kyiv authorities do just that. Look at Ukraine’s foreign policy or, more precisely, the lack of it. Everything that the Kyiv authorities’ mouthpieces do and say in the international arena, their entire foreign policy agenda, comes down to one thing, invective and philippics directed at Russia and anti-Russian initiatives. That is it. The Roman senator Cato, with his endless call for Carthage to be destroyed, pales by comparison. But unlike us, our Western colleagues are deprived of the rare pleasure of hearing, without interruptions or translations, Ukraine’s internal political discourse or, as they pompously term it, the dialogue in their politicum.

To take just one quote from Verkhovna Rada deputy Oleh Barna on the leading Ukrainian TV channel: “Russians are not a people. They are a population without a history. They are bastards, Tatar-Mongolian mongrels. People who have always stolen from everyone.” That is word for word, and I could cite a bunch more like it. Why am I doing this? Because everyone in Ukraine knows Russian. Approximately half of the population speaks it as if it were their first language. And in fact the ratio in favour of the Russian language is greater than that. For the Council’s information, the Ukrainian authorities, including President Poroshenko, speak Russian among themselves and in their everyday life. Only on television do they speak Ukrainian. Not to mention the fact that a significant part of the population of Ukraine is Russian.

Ukraine enacted a discriminatory language law that in effect has left no room for the Russian language in the educational arena. The same goes for Hungarian, by the way. Ask the Hungarians. But the scale of the damage to the Russian language is greater. That was what the Venice Commission concluded about the discriminatory nature of the law. But the Kyiv authorities are not about to change anything, they just keep stepping on the same rake. After all, the language issue was one of the main reasons for the start of the conflict in Donbas. But it is not just about that. Our Western colleagues do not want to understand, or cannot, that for the people of Donbas — and not only Donbas, believe me — living in a country where politicians like Barna are mainstream — and they are mainstream — the issue is not merely political or economic, it is existential.

The people in the Crimea breathed a sigh of relief when they chose to join Russia through a voluntary referendum. If they had not, things would be worse there now than they are in Donbas. S/PV.8386 Ukraine 30/10/2018 16/19 18-34901 During the so-called revolution of honour in Kyiv, the following one-word hashtag appeared: #theyarejustchildren. It meant “Why take this away from them? Just indulge them and it will pass.” We have a saying similar to “Don’t play with matches” — “Matches are not children’s toys”.

Now those children are walking around Kyiv with torchlight processions and Nazi slogans and fighting in Donbas with the nationalist volunteer battalions. That is something else our Western colleagues prefer not to notice. They have let the genie out of the bottle, but now it is not that they do not want to put it back. They cannot. The great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin wrote the following lines: “Oh, it isn’t hard to deceive me. / I am happy to deceive myself.”

That is about these gentlemen in the Council.