Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing on Ukraine
We regret that Albanian Presidency of the Security Council followed the pernicious path of Western colleagues and invited five delegations (Ukraine, Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Estonia) to speak under Rule 37. The delegation of the European Union will make the sixth. It is obvious that their statements are not going to add any value to the discussion, as all of them will comply with NATO’s general narrative. What is the point of turning this meeting into an open debate if Albania intends to hold one on 20 September already? Such an approach devaluates the discussion of the Council.
When we first saw the proposed topic for this briefing we were pleasantly surprised by this initiative to mark the anniversary of referenda that brought the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions to become part of Russia. To tell the truth, we were thinking to raise it ourselves to tell the Council how life is going on in the new Russian regions.
However, it seems that Albania and the United States, having announced the referenda as the subject matter of this meeting, confused them with the elections to regional parliaments that are currently taking place in Russia’s new entities. To be more precise, they wanted to use them to justify further attacks against our country. Although Western countries, which teach others "true democratic values", should know better than anyone else about the forms of expression of people’s will.
However, when it comes to Western interests, our former partners do not take into account such "trifles" as referenda, elections and the opinion of ordinary citizens in general. This was the case, in particular, in Kosovo, where instead of a free expression of will, independence was proclaimed by a provisional self-governing body that clearly overstepped its powers. At that time, the same countries that now fiercely criticize the Russian referenda argued that Kosovo had the right to secede from the Serbian state because of the threat of a serious violation of the rights of Kosovo Albanians. Even though, in reality, they had not been exposed to threats for a long time.
Unlike the situation in Kosovo, the rights and the very lives of the people of Donbas, Kherson and Zaporozhye have been and remain under threat. It is posed by the actions of the same criminal regime that has shelled the peaceful quarters in Donbas since 2014 and which, with the connivance of the United States and its allies, has declared war on everything Russian and is actively planting neo-Nazi ideology in Ukraine. Only a clear legal status of these territories, their incorporation into the Russian Federation, could give protection and certainty about the future to the inhabitants of the liberated regions. In the same manner, Crimea reunited with Russia back in 2014, because Kiev unambiguously threatened the peninsula with either Ukrainianization or reprisals.
The long-awaited people’s vote took place on 23-27 September 2022 and the results were self-explanatory. The overwhelming majority of the voters – 99% in the DPR, 98% in the LPR, 93% in the Zaporozhye Region, and 87% in the Kherson region – made a conscientious and free choice in favor of our country. Despite the complex security situation and provocations by the Kiev regime, the turnout stood at 76% in Kherson up to 97% in the DPR.
The referenda were held in full compliance with the norms and principles of international law, no matter how much our Western opponents try to prove otherwise. The decisions of the votes reflect the right of peoples to self-determination, which, according to the 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law, can take the form of "the establishment of a sovereign and independent State, free accession to or association with an independent State". More than a hundred international observers from Italy, Germany, Venezuela, Latvia and other countries who monitored the voting also recognized the results as legitimate.
For the residents of the new Russian regions, this was not just a decision on the legal status. They executed their inalienable right to speak their native language, teach it to their children, and on Victory Day, which is sacred to our peoples, to pay tribute to those who fought to liberate their land from the Nazis rather than those who collaborated with them committing horrendous crimes.
The people of the DPR and LPR had waited for this opportunity for eight years. For all that time they remained under the incessant shelling of the Kiev regime, which since 2014 had set a course towards physical extermination of the undesirable residents of South-East Ukraine. The Ukrainian authorities publicly called the Russian and Russian-speaking citizens of Donbas "subhumans" and "species." In one of his interviews, V.Zelensky suggested they should "get out of Ukraine to Russia". Actually, residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions followed his cynical recommendation by coming back home and taking with them the lands where their ancestors had lived for centuries.
The liberated territories acceded to Russia voluntarily, which is best evidenced by the fact that local residents started to engage actively in the life of our country and all-Russian processes, support efforts for economic and social revitalization of these new Russian regions and recovery of their undisputed centuries-old Russian identity. There were many allegations predicting nearly an emergence of a guerrilla movement in these territories after their incorporation into Russia. In reality, only a small number of sabotage groups sent from the territory of Ukraine are trying to "muddy the waters" but to no avail, for the exact same local residents help to identify and neutralize them. Of course, this is a huge disappointment for the Zelensky regime, which has had the opportunity to learn the real attitude of the people of Ukraine to its criminal policy.
Surely, the achievements of Crimea after its return to Russia also influenced the choice of former Ukrainian citizens. Over 9 years, life on the peninsula has changed for the better. People do not fear for their lives, the economy is actively developing and infrastructure is building up. We have invested earnestly in the well-being of this region. And this is exactly how we are and will be developing Donbas and other territories that Kiev has sought to turn into ruins.
It is obvious that other regions of Ukraine, which have fully uncovered the true face of the Kiev regime, are also looking into the experience of the LPR, DPR, Kherson and Zaporozhye. Suffice it to mention the Human Rights Watch report, which recognized that the Ukrainian armed forces had shelled certain areas of Kharkov region with cluster munitions, resulting in the mass civilian casualties. Just as the Kiev regime once fired on Bucha, trying to pass off the civilians killed by the shelling as victims of “Russian occupants” by laying the dead bodies out in the streets. It is no coincidence that, as reported by the administration of the Kupyansk, which has been closely approached by Russian troops, its residents refuse to evacuate en masse, preferring to wait for our soldiers.
In general, most Ukrainians understand perfectly well that the threat is not coming from Russia’s actions, but from the criminal policy of Zelensky’s regime. Today it manifests itself in a widespread conscription, which Ukrainians have long labelled "conscription to the grave". The fact is that NATO, as we know, is waging a hybrid war with Russia in Ukraine to the last Ukrainian. Now that the notorious counter-offensive has failed Ukrainians are running low and are not willing to get into the "meat grinder". Therefore, military commissars try to grab whoever they can in the streets. There are reports that the European Union is ready to extradite men of conscription age to Kiev, once again disregarding its principles and values.
Ukrainian men savvied this real quick. So now a campaign is gaining momentum on social media to relocate them as refugees to Russia, where several million Ukrainians have already found shelter. Speaks for itself, isn’t it?
The new regions are actively integrating into the life of our country. The government has approved a program for the socio-economic development of these federal entities. It involves comprehensive recovery of infrastructure, federal programs and national projects, measures for social support and benefits. Plans are to restart key industries and enterprises, restore production sites, create conditions for further growth, and most importantly, improve the welfare of citizens and protect their rights.
Russia will consistently and systematically address problems that have emerged in the regions during this time they have not been with our country. In 2023, we have repaired more than 700 kilometers of roads, restored 177 educational institutions. On September 1, more than 1,250 schools started working in the four new regions.
The liberated Mariupol, which still remembers the brutal crimes of Ukrainian nationalists, rebuilds actively and is improving in looks. On 1 September, the Knowledge Day, the Mariupol State University named after A. Kuinji and the Azov State Technical University opened their doors, as well as 25 schools and 26 daycare facilities, including a new modern school for 1,100 children that was built from scratch.
Of course, for the regions to be able to fully integrate into the Russian legal and administrative framework, they need functional authorities with the same powers as in other constituent entities of the Russian Federation. Starting today and until September 10 – the single day of voting in our country – elections to regional parliaments and municipal authorities are being held at all polling stations. Early and extraterritorial voting has already indicated an active political position of citizens.
This being said, the organizers and participants in the electoral process have to go through the harshest conditions characterized by endless shelling and provocations by Ukraine. Between August 31 and September 4, Ukrainian armed forces shelled the Donetsk city area more than 120 times with Western-style 155-millimetre projectiles, including cluster munitions. As a result, 63 men and women were wounded by shrapnel, and a six-year-old girl was killed in the Kievsky district of Donetsk. Of course, none of our Western colleagues said anything about this today.
Despite risks to their lives, election workers travel to villages situated in combat areas. In the DPR, field teams went to the most dangerous locations – Gorlovka, Volnovakha, Yasinovataya, several districts of Donetsk and Makeyevka.
Western countries and the UN Secretariat know these geographical names very well, but shamefully prefer not to mention them. But in our country, these names resonate with the pain of hundreds of civilians who have been killed and injured there. Killed by Western long-range weapons. Killed in their homes, in department stores and cafes, in public facilities – in other words, civilian objects with no military targets nearby. The responsibility for their deaths lies not only with the Kiev regime, but also with its Western sponsors, who supply the Ukrainian nationalists with artillery systems and other heavy weaponry. They draw nice profits from other people's misfortune and therefore are not interested in a peaceful solution to the Ukrainian crisis. We will get back to this at the next such meeting of the Security Council scheduled for September 12.
It is the heinous crimes of the Kiev regime and its obsessive and hopeless desire to deprive Russian people of their Russian identity that are the main reason why the people of Donbas, Lugansk and Zaporozhye vote actively and consciously for their future together with Russia. Kiev has lost them in the same way as it once lost Crimea, failing to draw conclusions from its obvious mistakes. We see that Kiev regime is still not capable of learning its lessons, which brings closer its inglorious and inevitable end.
Some Western delegations and representatives of the UN Secretariat risked mentioning yesterday's strike on Konstantinovka in the part of the Donetsk People's Republic controlled by the Ukrainian armed forces. This is indeed a terrible tragedy: 16 people were killed and 32 injured when a missile hit the busy city market.
But we are sure that you will quickly forget and sidetrack this incident, realizing, as in the case of the strike on Kramatorsk in April last year, what a heinous crime and terrible provocation by Ukraine you are covering up. You don't need to be an expert in ballistics to see from the available videos posted on social networks, incidentally even by Zelensky himself, that the missile came from the northwest, where there are exclusively Ukrainian positions. Having realized this, the Western media that circulated the video even hurried to remove the reflection of the missile in the roof of a parked car which clearly showed where it arrived from. But it was too late and the truth came out.
This is yet another disgusting lie that the Western media are using to cover up yet another rough provocation by the Kiev regime, which was done according to a well-established tradition prior to the visit of yet another high-ranking Western visitor, A.Blinken. We have no doubt that it was done in order to secure another dose of weapons and money injections for the agonizing regime. The same scheme was used for the disgusting provocation in Bucha in April 2022. Kiev will surely come up with more such Goebbels-style performances.