Statement by First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy at a UNGA meeting on Ukraine
The discussion in which we have to participate today must surely be one of the most embarrassing episodes of the work of the General Assembly ever since item 65 was imposed on its agenda. Every round of this conversation delivers a painful strike on the authority of this collective body. If those saying that UNGA is often detached from reality ever prove right, here is an occasion which constitutes a clear example of such “detachment”.
Our Ukrainian colleagues are to thank for this. For almost seven years on end, they have been maintaining and exploiting the role of a victim to the so-called Russian aggression. Promotion of such baseless allegations clearly becomes a matter of survival for Ukrainian authorities. In that, as we can see today, they are assisted by our Western colleagues who sponsored the Maidan coup. Obviously, they are mutually interested in having everyone believe the tales about the Russian aggression, because should the truth come out, they will have to explain to the global community some rather unseemly things. For example, who plotted the 2014 Maidan provocation with over 100 victims, if there is more and more evidence and proofs that protesters were shot at from the opposition-controlled positions? Who stood behind the arson of Trade Unions House in Odessa in May 2014 with over 40 victims? The Ukrainian Themis does not seem to hurry investigating both these episodes, understanding the cost of inevitable exposure of the provocative and criminal nature of the Maidan events and acts of its leaders and sponsors.
Of course, there are other unpleasant episodes. Who authorized direct threats and violence against the people of Crimea, and decisions against the status of the Russian language (which was convenient for all Ukrainians), that gave impetus to the Referendum on the Status of Crimea and subsequent reunification with Russia in full compliance with the right of peoples to self-determination as enshrined in the UN Charter? Who started a civil war on the Russian-speaking population in the East of Ukraine by bringing down bombs and shells upon Donbass instead of talking to its people about the future of the country, plans for which the Maidan leaders decided to rewrite anew without consulting the population of these regions?
These questions will have to be answered sooner or later, and first of all – to the people of Ukraine. We understand that this must be difficult and upsetting. It is much easier to keep misleading everyone, as Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister O.Reznikov was doing lately with great ardor. Contrary to facts and data from OSCE SMM he claimed that a 7000 Russian contingent was allegedly present in Donbass. It is much easier to spread horror tales about the allegedly “occupied Crimea”, though to prove these allegations wrong is as simple as ABC. Approximately a million of Ukrainians do it every year when visiting the peninsula as tourists and leaving positive feedback on social media afterwards.
My German colleague pretentiously lamented that we let no one in Crimea. Ask your compatriots, i.a. colleagues from Bundestag who visit Crimea on a regular basis. By the way, both us and the Crimeans extended to you a personal invitation to come to the peninsula. Perhaps, you have gone to extra expense recently and would rather that we buy you a ticket? Then tell us so, why beating around the bush?
If there is a kind of occupation we can talk about today, it is Maidan Ukraine’s occupation of the normal Ukraine – a country that used to be open, friendly to us, that we had similar values and ideals with. The Maidan madness and geopolitical considerations of our Western colleagues have turned it into a nationalist estate, an "Anti-Russia". The people of Donbass are opposing this occupation while thinking of the future of their children. So when you speak of occupants in Donbass, be mindful that there are no other “occupants” there but the people of Donetsk and Lugansk themselves. They have lived there and they live there now. This is the truth, however inconvenient for you it might be.
It is also the truth that our today’s conversation inflicts practical harm on many people in Donbass. On the eve of this meeting (and in advance of all the like events), Ukraine’s armed forces intensified fire at the suburbs of Donetsk. Some of the shooting was done from arms prohibited under the Minsk Agreements. A young resident of settlement Aleksandrovka was heavily wounded, some residential buildings were damaged. Despite the rapid growth in the density of shootings, so far there are no deaths because the people of Donbass have got used to sudden fire coming from the Ukrainian military.
The Kiev authorities and their Western sponsors do not need the truth. That is why they do their best to prevent Crimeans and the people of Donbass from participating in events convened within the UN framework. However, it gets ever more difficult to silence down the uncomfortable truth. In May 2020, the Security Council held an “Arria-formula” meeting on the situation in Crimea, where the residents of the peninsula could comment on the allegations of politicians who had long lost any connection to Crimea, voiced at a similar meeting that had not invited Crimeans to participate. In December last year the people of Donetsk and Lugansk could present their position to the Security Council, though the delegation of Ukraine, and even those who pretend to be mediators in Ukrainian settlement ignored the “Arria-formula” which gave the floor to the people of Donbass. In doing this, Paris and Berlin in fact “threw off their masks” and clearly showed whose side they really take.
Despite furious antagonism of our Western colleagues, we will keep telling the truth about the situation in the East of Ukraine, and debunk myths about the situation in Russian Crimea. We circulated the highlights of the meetings I mentioned as UNSC official documents. Yesterday we also circulated comments of Donetsk and Lugansk on statements made during the UNSC session on 11 February that was convened upon Russia’s initiative and dedicated to implementation of the Minsk Package by Ukraine.
This document clearly shows that Kiev’s commitment to the ‘Minsk Agreements” is merely a beautiful myth, convenient for the West and having nothing to do with reality. By the way, statements made by Ukrainian officials only prove this. Let me remind you of President V.Zelensky eloquently saying that “The Minsk Agreements are needed not to settle the conflict, but to preserve sanctions against Russia”. Other high-ranking officials pick up on his words. Mr.Reznikov, whom I already cited today, is convinced that the term of the Minsk Agreements expired on 31 December 2015 and calls to persuade Russia to amend them. Head of Ukraine's delegation in the Minsk Contact Group Leonid Kravchuk calls the Minsk Agreements “a loop on Ukraine’s neck”. But all those words are meant for domestic use in Ukraine. When it comes to the international conversation, they all say, without batting an eye and totally supported by the West, that Ukraine fully observed the Minsk Agreements, whereas Russia didn’t. The fact that Russia is not mentioned in the Minsk Agreements as a side to them does not seem to bother anyone.
Today the representative of Ukraine gave us two quotes from American President H.Truman. But he made not a single mentioning of his country’s obligations under the Minsk Agreements, which is rather indicative as regards who runs things in Ukraine now.
Ladies and gentlemen,
With Kiev and its Western colleagues playing this reckless game, it Ukraine may face most negative consequences. We have repeatedly warned against it. The final goal of the Minsk Agreements is to have Donbass back as part of Ukraine. However, to achieve this, Kiev must have a direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk under the mediation of the OSCE and Russia, and work jointly with Donbass to elaborate its special status. Ukraine has rejected such dialogue from the very start. At the same time, shooting against residential areas continues, as well as subversions and economic and infrastructural blockade. This said, do you think Donetsk and Lugansk will hurry up to rejoin Ukraine?
Besides, over these years Ukraine has not overcome (in fact – only exacerbated) Maidan's “original sin” – the unwillingness to listen to the aspirations of the Russian-speaking population. It enacted the law on the Ukrainian language, according to which speaking Russian in public is a punishable offense. Absolution and glorification of Nazi henchmen who used to help, among other things, with mass extermination of Jews, have assumed an unprecedented scale. There are infringements of the freedom of speech and the media. To say nothing of Russian TV channels that have long been outlawed in Ukraine. A few weeks ago V.Zelensky shut down three oppositional Ukrainian channels, though shortly before that he had pledged he would never do such thing. This has followed, to a large extent, from the fact that Kiev’s Western patrons gave it a “carte blanche” to whatever acts and ventures. Add to this a devastating economic situation in the country that deteriorates daily because of disrupted neighborly and mutually beneficial economic ties with Russia.
A legitimate question begs itself: what is the point and the incentive for Donetsk and Lugansk to get back to such Ukraine that misleads the global community on a daily basis and spreads misinformation about them; that calls them occupants on their own land; that convenes events like this, which put off prospects of having the urgent problems finally solved?
Solution to the problem of Eastern Ukraine is to be found in Ukraine itself. The sooner Kiev realizes it the better. Kiev's cruel criminal action pushed away Crimea and Donbass. Crimeans already made their final choice and cannot be wooed back, whereas Donetsk and Lugansk still keep the door open. To make sure it does not close, Ukraine needs to stop geopolitical games as soon as possible and start implementing the Minsk Agreements provision by provision, the way they were articulated and signed.
There is no other way that would ensure an optimistic scenario for Ukraine.
That is why it is so important to act in support of the Minsk Agreements and underscore that redrafting them is unacceptable.
In conclusion, I would like to say the following. No matter what, the representatives of Donbass are doing their best to proceed with peaceful settlement in eastern Ukraine. In particular, they plan on holding a research-to-practice conference in Minsk in April-May 2021 (should this be convenient for the hospitable Belarusian hosts) to discuss the progress of the Minsk Agreements. If the Kiev authorities and their sponsors ignore this event (and this is what we are compelled to expect, having analyzed the logic of their recent behavior), it will designate another missed opportunity to bring the long-awaited peace to the East of Ukraine.