Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a meeting of the UN Security Council on Ukraine
Esteemed Ms Chairperson,
As I understand it, today’s meeting was motivated by a striving to discuss the issue of “impunity” in Ukraine. I consider this to be timely. This term fully reflects what has been taking place in that country since 2014. At that time, nationalist radical forces, overt Russophobes and neo-Nazis came to power there because of an armed coup, with direct support from the Western countries. Immediately after this, they embarked on a path of lawlessness and complete neglect for basic human rights and freedoms – the right to life, freedom of speech, access to information, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and the use of a native tongue.
The crimes committed in Maidan Square in February 2014 have gone unpunished to this day. Those guilty of the monstrous tragedy in Odessa on May 2, 2014 have not been found and punished. During this tragedy, about 50 people were burned alive and killed in the local House of Trade Unions. The political assassinations of Oles Buzina, Pavel Sheremet and other public figures and journalists are in the same category. Despite this, attempts are being made to impose on us a completely different narrative about Russian aggression as the prime cause for these problems.
In the process, people ignore the fact that for over eight years the Ukrainian army and militants from nationalist groups have been killing Donbass residents with impunity only because they refused to recognise the outcome of the criminal, bloody, anti-constitutional coup in Kiev and decided to uphold their rights as guaranteed by Ukraine’s constitution, including the right to freely use their native Russian tongue.
Then Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseny Yatsenyuk said in 2015 that sub-humans lived in Donbass. Current President Vladimir Zelensky has not moved too far from this. When asked what he thought about the residents of Donbass in his interview in September 2021, he replied that some were people and others were creatures or animal species. This is a salient feature of the Ukrainian regime, both under Petr Poroshenko and Vladimir Zelensky.
They called all those who objected to the results of the coup terrorists. For eight years, the Kiev regime conducted a “military operation” against peaceful civilians in Donbass. For a long time now, Ukraine has been carrying out the total mobilisation of adults, including women, to recruit them into nationalist battalions and the Ukrainian armed forces.
Hypocritically declaring their commitment to the Minsk agreements, the Kiev authorities openly subverted the implementation of the agreements, and did so with impunity. A financial, transport and energy blockade was imposed on Donbass. Its residents were cut off from their social benefits, pensions, salaries, banking services, communications, education and healthcare. They were deprived of elementary civil rights that were guaranteed, in particular, by the 1966 international covenants on economic, social and cultural rights, as well as on civil and political rights.
At some point, when he got tired of pretending, Zelensky said that the only thing the Minsk Package of Measures was needed for was to keep the sanctions on Russia in place. His predecessor in office and co-author of the Minsk agreements, Poroshenko, was even more outspoken. A couple of months ago, he publicly and proudly stated that neither he nor anyone in Ukraine planned on fulfilling the agreements he had signed. They were needed only to buy time to receive weapons from the Western countries for war with the Russian Federation. Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council Secretary Aleksey Danilov spoke along the same lines.
The Kiev regime owes its impunity to its Western curators, primarily Germany and France, and of course, the United States. Instead of pressing Kiev into complying with the Minsk agreements, Berlin and Paris cynically turned a blind eye to Kiev’s open threats to resolve the “Donbass problem” forcefully, the so-called plan B.
In recent years, the Kiev regime has waged an all-out onslaught on the Russian language and infringed on the rights of the Russian and Russian-speaking people of Ukraine with impunity. Controversial language laws – On Education (2017), On Ensuring the Functioning of the Ukrainian Language as the State Language (2019), On Complete General Secondary Education (2020), and On the Indigenous Peoples of Ukraine (2021) were adopted. All of them were aimed at severely limiting the Russian language and, in fact, completely banning it.
At the same time, laws were passed that encouraged Nazi theory and practice. Kiev completely ignored the half-hearted recommendations issued by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the OSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities to improve the language related legislation. In turn, these multilateral entities were unable to muster the courage (or maybe they were simply not allowed to do so) to induce the Ukrainian authorities to fulfill their international obligations in human rights.
The Ministry of Education of Ukraine removed the Russian language and Russian literature from the school curriculum. Books in Russian are being banned and destroyed like in Nazi Germany, and monuments to Russian writers are being torn down.
With Ukrainian state support, the ideology of ethnic intolerance towards ethnic Russians is being imposed. The country’s officials are no longer ashamed of their Nazi-like nature, and openly and with impunity call for killing Russians.
I will cite a few examples. Ukraine’s ambassador to Kazakhstan Petr Vrublevsky, now in Kiev, had the following to say in an August 22 interview: “We are trying to kill as many of them (Russians) as possible. The more Russians we kill now, the fewer Russians our children will have to kill. That’s all.” Has anyone noticed this?
Earlier, last spring, the mayor of the city of Dnepr Boris Filatov spoke along the same lines: “Now is the time for cold fury. We now have the full moral right to calmly and with a completely clear mind kill these non-humans around the world, for the foreseeable future and in the largest possible quantities.”
On September 13, National Security and Defence Council Secretary Aleksey Danilov had the following to say: “People in the communities taken back by the Armed Forces of Ukraine will be Ukrainianised without asking for their opinion. This will apply not only to Russians, but people of other ethnic backgrounds as well. If you want to study additionally in another language, Romanian, Polish, or Hebrew, please do so, but not at the expense of our state. You can pursue your education [in these languages] at your own expense.”
Should I even mention that all these Russophobic tricks went absolutely unpunished? It’s not just about Russophobia. He spoke about people of other ethnicities living in Ukraine as well.
Zelensky’s interview on August 5, 2021 was a high point in this regard. In it, he told everyone who feels Russian to leave for Russia for the good of their children and grandchildren.
I think that the decisions made by the people in a number of Ukrainian regions to hold referendums are a response to his wishes.
Ukraine is intensifying the persecution of dissidents under the pretext of countering “the Russian aggression” and “separatism.” A ban on the activities of 11 political parties was imposed last March under the pretext that they were “tied to Russia.” The leading opposition television channels that broadcasted in Russian were shut down long ago. Websites that the government finds objectionable are being blocked. Journalists are harassed for attempts to express an alternative view on what is happening. Prominent Ukrainian public figure Yelena Berezhnaya is in a Ukrainian Security Service dungeon. She repeatedly spoke at the UN and the OSCE about the growth of neo-Nazism in Ukraine.
We have no doubt that Ukraine has finally turned into a Nazi-style totalitarian state where standards of international humanitarian law are trampled underfoot with impunity. It is no surprise that the Ukrainian armed forces and nationalist battalions resort to terrorist tactics and use civilians as “living shields.”
The position of the states that are pumping Ukraine with weapons and combat equipment and training its armed forces is particularly cynical against this backdrop. The goal is obvious (they declare it rather than hide it) – to drag out the hostilities as much as possible despite the human losses and destruction in order to exhaust and weaken Russia. This implies the direct involvement of Western countries in the Ukrainian conflict, which is turning them into its party. The deliberate fuelling of this conflict by the collective West also goes without consequence. Indeed, they won’t punish themselves, will they?
We have no illusions that today the armed forces of Russia and the defenders of the DPR and the LPR are opposed not only by the neo-Nazi units of the Kiev regime but also by the war machine of the “collective West”. NATO is supplying the Ukrainian armed forces with real-time intelligence information using modern systems, aircraft, ships, satellites and strategic drones. Ukraine is incited to defeat Russia on the battlefield (as EU officials openly say) and Russia must be deprived of any sovereignty by way of punishment. This is no longer latent racism. It is as overt as it can be.
Vladimir Zelensky is rejoicing at the efficiency of Western arms against the background of massive shelling of residential areas in Donbass. This is a quote: “Finally, we feel that Western artillery has become very powerful – these are weapons we received from our Western partners. This accuracy is exactly what we need,” said the cynical leader of this state entity. Meanwhile, no military or strategic targets were hit during this shelling of residential areas. The suffering is befalling civilians in Donbass.
Since late July, the Ukrainian armed forces have scattered prohibited anti-personnel Petal mines over the centre of Donetsk and its suburbs. The use of these mines is a crude violation of the 1997 convention on the prohibition of anti-personnel mines, which Ukraine ratified in 2005, as well as the second protocol to the Geneva convention on conventional arms (that bans mines without a self-destruct device).
Such outrages have become possible and remain unpunished because the United States and its allies have consistently covered up the crimes of the Kiev regime for eight years with the connivance of international human rights institutions. They have built their policy on Zelensky based on the notorious American principle: “Sure, he is a son of a bitch, but he is our son of a bitch.”
The uncomfortable truth, smearing Ukraine’s luminous image as a victim of Russian aggression, is being meticulously hushed up and sometimes openly deleted. Even the Western human rights organisation Amnesty International that can hardly be suspected of sympathising with Russia, was subjected to severe criticism and blacklisted as a Kremlin agent. It was punished just for confirming in its report the commonly known facts about Kiev deploying artillery and heavy weapons at civilian facilities.
The criminal shelling of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant by the Kiev regime militants, which creates the risk of a nuclear disaster, remains unpunished. The shelling continues despite the fact that the IAEA staff has been present at the station since September 1, and it is not hard to identify the party responsible for the shelling.
Let me remind you that the IAEA mission’s visit to the Zaporozhye NPP was artificially delayed. The details of the visit were agreed upon on June 3, and the mission could have safely gone there. Later, an unseemly situation arose where the UN Secretariat’s Department of Safety and Security refused to greenlight a particular route that had been agreed upon by Russia and the IAEA. Then it claimed that the IAEA would determine the mission’s parameters on its own. These unseemly proceedings pushed the IAEA mission’s visit to the Zaporozhye NPP back by three months.
The fate of the Russian troops who ended up in the hands of Ukrainian nationalists is something that is of great concern to us. There is ample evidence of abusive treatment, including out-of-court killings in violation of international humanitarian law. I’m sure that everyone who is interested in what is actually happening in Ukraine has seen videos of the Russian prisoners of war being killed by Ukrainian Nazis. They threw the POWs to the ground with their hands tied behind their backs and shot them in the head. Have any of the countries represented here commented on this crime?
We have a great amount of evidence of these and other crimes regularly committed by the Kiev regime since 2014. In cooperation with their colleagues from the DPR and the LPR, Russian law enforcement agencies record and investigate these crimes. Over 220 individuals have been identified, including representatives of the high command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and military unit commanders, those who were involved in shooting civilians. Criminal cases are being investigated involving citizens of Great Britain, Canada, the United States, and the Netherlands regarding the facts of mercenary activities and the perpetration of criminal acts in Ukraine. Rest assured that all those responsible, regardless of their nationality, will be held accountable.
Once again, I would like you to take note of the following: Russian and Ukrainian negotiators almost agreed on the settlement terms proposed by Kiev in Istanbul in late March, but tragic events unfolded in Bucha a couple of days later. No one has any doubts that it was a staged performance. Right after this staged act became publicly known, our Western colleagues went hysterical and imposed another package of sanctions on the Russian Federation accusing us of killing civilians. No one has ever mentioned Bucha since the time this propagandistic effect was achieved. No one, but us. Once again, in the presence of the Secretary-General and esteemed ministers, I’m asking you to please get the Ukrainian authorities to take the elementary step of releasing the names of the people whose corpses were shown in Bucha. I’ve been asking for this for several months now. No one seems to hear me or is willing to respond.
Please, use your authority to get this done. I think everyone will benefit from clearing up this episode.
The increased activity of international justice in relation to Ukraine has come to our attention. Obscure “efforts” to investigate crimes in Ukraine that are ascribed to the Russian military are being touted, which is undoubtedly a put-up job, which we clearly see.
No intelligible responses have been issued from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the wake of the 2014 bloody coup in Kiev, the Odessa tragedy of May 2, 2014, the shelling of peaceful cities in Donbass, the bombing of Lugansk by warplanes on June 2, 2014, or multiple other incidents. Over 3,000 reports of crimes against residents of Donbass have been sent to the ICC. There was no response. Clearly, the senior officials from this “judicial body” have received a command from on high to step up their activities. This body has lost its credibility with us. For eight long years we have been hoping in vain for someone to start fighting the impunity in Ukraine. We are no longer counting on seeing justice from this or a number of other international agencies. We are finished waiting.
Everything I said goes to show once again that the decision to conduct a special military operation was unavoidable. We have said this more than once. We have presented volumes of factual evidence proving that Ukraine was preparing to play the role of the “anti-Russia” and was being used as a springboard for creating and implementing threats against Russia’s security. I am here to assure you that we will not let this happen.