Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing on risks to international peace and security posed by non-observance of the Minsk Agreements
I think what Steve Sweeney just said should have been voiced by the representative of the Secretariat who briefed us today. That is what the Secretariat should have said instead of the idle rhetoric consisting of worn-out clichés.
We have initiated this meeting in order to remind everyone present of what has come of the deliberate sabotage by the Kiev regime and its sponsors of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements, the document fundamental to resolving the internal Ukrainian crisis. It was signed exactly 9 years ago, on February 12, 2015, and is an integral part of UNSC resolution 2202 of February 17, 2015. I should also like to recall that Security Council also adopted a presidential statement on 6 June 2018 in support of the implementation of the Package.
I will provide a brief recap of the content of this document. The Package of Measures fixed a clear sequence of reconciliation-oriented steps to be taken by the parties, the order of which was agreed and could not be changed:
- Withdrawal of weapons;
- OSCE monitoring;
- Start of Kiev-Donbas dialogue;
- Detainee exchange;
- Humanitarian access;
- Lifting of economic blockade;
- Transfer of border control to Kiev if para.11 is observed;
- Withdrawal of foreign militias and mercenaries;
- Constitutional reform enshrining special status for Donbas;
- Agreement on the modalities of elections;
- Intensification of the work of the contact group in Minsk.
Out of these 13 points, only 2 were formally implemented – on the Minsk Contact Group and the Special Monitoring Mission of the OSCE.
From the very beginning, the Ukrainian side resolved to reject any direct engagement with Donbas in the Contact Group, in violation of the parts of that document that unambiguously set out this obligation. Kiev twisted the agreements in every possible way and alleged that it must first comply with para. 9 on reinstatement of control over the border with Luhansk and Donetsk Republics. All attempts to find a solution proved futile, including the so-called "Steinmeier formula", which envisaged that on the day of voting in the local elections, the Ukrainian law on local self-government in the LPR and DPR should enter into force on a temporary basis. However, the Kiev regime got away with everything; none of our Western colleagues has ever found the strength to recognize Kiev's sabotage of the Minsk Agreements. Kiev and its Western sponsors would repeat (in this Chamber too) the absolutely groundless assertions that the Minsk Agreements were allegedly not being implemented by Russia, which had no obligations thereunder. All attempts to shift responsibility to Russia and make it a party to the conflict were completely invalid.
Faithful and consistent implementation of the Minsk agreements by Kiev was the only chance to bring peace back to Ukraine. A settlement required first and foremost direct, inclusive and mutually respectful dialogue between the parties to the conflict as envisioned by the agreements – Donetsk and Luhansk on the one side and Kiev on the other. I should like to recall briefly what preceded the signing of the Minsk Agreements and why it was so important.
After the deadly coup d'état in Kiev in February 2014, which will mark its tenth anniversary in the coming days, the new nationalist neo-Nazi regime set out to subjugate to its will the part of the country that did not want to abandon its historical and cultural roots. The people in Donbas did not ask for much. They just wanted to live peacefully on their land, have local self-government, speak Russian and teach it to their children, and honor the memory of those who had liberated their land from fascism rather than those who collaborated with the Nazis. They asked for nothing beyond the rights that national minorities have in any Western European country. However, the new authorities responded to calls for dialogue with blood and violence. To understand the intentions of the supporters of these authorities, it is enough to recall the brutal massacre of Odessa protesters on May 2, 2014, where about 50 people were burned alive in the Odessa Trade Union House, and those who escaped the fire were mercilessly killed. The perpetrators of this crime are still at large in Ukraine. They are not even hiding, for that matter.
Once they saw the true face of the new neo-Nazi authorities, the inhabitants of southern and south-eastern Ukraine wanted nothing in common with them. And when the Kiev clique used the army and nationalist battalions as part of the so-called "anti-terrorist operation" in violation of the Ukrainian Constitution and rained shells and bombs on peaceful towns, many in Donetsk and Luhansk took up arms. This halted Kiev's aggression against Donetsk and Luhansk. In order to save its military formations from complete defeat, Kiev was forced to sign first the first Minsk Protocol in September 2014 and then, exactly 9 years ago, the Minsk Package.
However, as we already know today thanks to the revelations of the then leaders of Germany and France, A. Merkel and F. Hollande, as well as the former President of Ukraine, P. Poroshenko, neither Kiev nor those who acted as guarantors of the Minsk Agreements (France, Germany and Poland) were going to do anything. They cynically used the respite to arm the Ukrainian military and prepare it for a war with Russia. Certain representatives of SMM OSCE were involved too. Instead of monitoring compliance with the ceasefire, they were in fact spying for Kiev and sharing intelligence with it. We know that from evidence obtained after the start of the special military operation.
Here are some quotes from statements by representatives of Zelensky's regime in January-February 2022, i.e. on the eve of the SMO. On January 31, Secretary of the National Security Council of Ukraine O. Danilov said, "the implementation of the Minsk Agreements means the destruction of the country". On February 1, Zelensky himself said, "Kiev has different attitudes towards the order of implementation of certain points of the Minsk Agreements". On 4 February, Ukrainian Foreign Minister D. Kuleba said that the Minsk Agreements could not be implemented "on Russian conditions", to which he attributed to direct dialogue between Ukraine and Donbas. The Ukrainian leadership never made it a secret that they were not ready to implement the Minsk Package. Had the Package been implemented, the tragedy that is taking place in Ukraine today would not have happened. It is a tragedy in which the United States and the collective West are complicit, who pursue their geopolitical goals at the expense of Ukraine and at the cost of its citizens.
Immediately after these statements, the shelling of peaceful towns in Donbas intensified dramatically, and in mid-February 2022 new flows of refugees poured into Russia escaping the actions of Ukrainian forces. Today, a total of about 7 million Ukrainians have found refuge in Russia.
In this situation, Russia had no right to step aside. We used all the diplomatic levers at our disposal and appealed to Kiev's Western patrons and the guarantors of the Minsk process, but all in vain.
Once we realized that all possible measures of political and diplomatic settlement had been exhausted and there was no other way to protect the people in the LPR and DPR from extermination, we laucnhed a special military operation in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter.
Implementation of the Minsk Package would have been the best scenario for the settlement of the internal Ukrainian conflict. Donbas would have returned to Ukraine had Ukraine done anything for this. First of all, become a civilized country that equally respects everyone’s rights, without any discrimination based on political, linguistic or ethnic aspects.
We must also recognize that preventive work of this Council, the importance of which many of our Western colleagues are so eager to underscore, has failed. After all, they all understood perfectly well what was actually happening and what implications it might have, but they did nothing, hoping that with the help of the neo-Nazi and Russophobic monster they had raised on our borders the West would be able to defeat or at least weaken Russia. Even after the start of the special military operation, the Western puppeteers of the Kiev regime prevented Ukraine from signing the peace treaty that was already initialed in Istanbul. So they are complicit in the tragedy and are fully responsible for the consequences of Ukraine's reckless and fatal steps to sabotage the Minsk deal and reject the treaty in Istanbul.
Today, we are sure to hear the same old record about so-called Russian aggression and occupation and our alleged failure to implement the Minsk Agreements. We are also aware what we are not going to hear today from the Kiev regime and its Western patrons. We will not hear about the outcome of the proceedings against Russia that Kiev initiated with the UN International Court of Justice in The Hague. I mean the proceedings on alleged financing of terrorism in Donbas and discrimination against Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians in the Crimea.
Lately, this clumsy attempt ended with the ICJ stating that neither the Donetsk nor the Luhansk People's Republics are terrorist organizations. In other words, there were no terrorists in Donbas. There were only those who demanded that the new authorities respect their legal rights. And whom Kiev began to kill instead.
The court also refused to recognize Russia as an "aggressor state", hold Russia or the Donetsk Republic responsible for the crash of MH-17, recognize Russia as a state sponsoring terrorism and discriminating against Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians in the Crimea. What do our former Western partners say to this?
Besides, on February 2, the ICJ adopted a procedural decision on Ukraine's third claim against Russia for alleged abuse of the Genocide Convention to justify the SMO, because Russia allegedly justified the special operation by genocide committed by Ukraine in Donbas. The ICJ rejected those unsubstantiated allegations. In a way Kiev has put itself in the dock and will now have to prove that what Kiev did in Donbas was not a genocide.
Once again, we should like to recall that Kiev called its violent crackdown on its own civilian population in Donbas an "anti-terrorist operation", i.e. an operation against terrorists. However, as the International Court of Justice has ruled, there have never been any terrorists in Donbas. Think what this means for the entire narrative that you promote as regards the Minsk Agreements and Russia's actions; and also for understanding the nature of the criminal clique that came to power in Kiev in 2014, which even today sends hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians as "cannon fodder" to die for the sake of Western geopolitical interests.
Right of reply:
We continue to marvel at the cynicism of our Western colleagues and their clumsy attempts to disregard or ignore whatever fails to fit into their narrative, even of such facts are obvious.
The representative of the United Kingdom tried to focus on the provisional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice, which, however, have become irrelevant in connection with the procedural decision adopted by the ICJ on 2 February. Besides, he left out the essence of the Court’s final decision on two Ukraine's claims against Russia. Let me say it again that the Court, in fact, did not satisfy any of Ukraine's charges and claims against Russia. And, in particular, it ruled that the Donbas Republics are not "terrorist organizations". Accordingly, everything that Kiev did in 2014, unleashing a war against them on the pretext of fighting terrorism, had no legal basis whatsoever. See this at last and stop undermining your Kiev clients, who have already completely lost their court cases. And in the third case to which you referred, they will now have to justify themselves and prove that there was no genocide on the part of Ukraine in Donbas.
As for the words about Minsk being dead, you twist are twisting facts again. The President of Russia said this after you had killed the Minsk Agreements. He simply stated the reality that you had created.
I do not intend to comment on the pseudo-legal speculations of the decisions of the International Court of Justice by the representative of the Kiev regime sitting in the chair of the former Ukrainian SSR. I will only say that it is very good that he has put his false allegations on record of this meeting.
We intend to circulate a letter among members of the UNSC and the UNGA, where we will provide the correct interpretation of the decisions of the International Court of Justice. You will receive it shortly.