Statement by Mr. Volodymyr Yelchenko, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN, at the UNSC briefing on “Letter Ukraine PR (S/2014/136)”

Statement by Mr. Volodymyr Yelchenko, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN, at the UNSC briefing on “Letter Ukraine PR (S/2014/136)”

Mr. President,

We appreciate the convening of this briefing at the request of Ukraine.

I thank all members of the Security Council that condemned the illegitimate decree of the Russian President.

You’ve already heard the Russian try of selling this decree to the wider UN membership.

As usual – Russian-style subversive diplomacy you’ve got used to here in this Council. Namely - cynical misinterpretation, manipulation, lies and disinformation.

Just look at this.

Only yesterday, when Putin was signing the decree, his Foreign Minister was delivering a statement at the – just imagine - «Moscow Conference on International Security».

And I quote: “We hope the new Ukrainian leadership will realize its responsibility and will contribute to the settlement of the crisis by fully implementing the Minsk Package of Measures within Contact group and Normandy format in full accordance with the Security Council resolution 2202. Germany and France will have to play an important role not to let the attempts to review the Minsk Agreements”. End of quote.

Shall we take it that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing?

I doubt it.

This is the usual behavior of Russia – double-speak and putting blame on others.

On 26 November 2018, speaking before this Council
I compared the Russian aggression in Ukraine to the Soviet dirty war against its neighbor in 1939. Unfortunately, history seems to be repeating itself.

Russian Federation is steadily embarking on the same road that led to the expulsion of the USSR from the League of Nations.

Similar to the Russian PR today, the Soviet diplomats at the time were stopping at nothing in offering excuses for Moscow’s flagrant violation of international law.

For example, when Soviet planes were bombing a neighboring country, Foreign minister Molotov insisted that the bombers were not dropping bombs but rather “food for the starving”.

Looks like our Russian colleagues are getting their arguments straight from the same logic.

In the distorted reality of hybrid war, the Kremlin seems to be living by George Orwell’s satire when, “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength”.

Otherwise it is impossible to explain how a manifest and cynical passport gamble could be dressed as a humanitarian act.

Mr. President,

Yesterday’s decree is yet another appalling episode in a chain of events to tear away the Russia occupied territories from Ukraine. The fake elections, organized by the Kremlin in breach of its obligations under the Minsk agreements in 2014 and 2018, the introduction of the ruble zone, the expropriation of Ukrainian enterprises, the official recognition of documents issued by illegal bodies, piracy and capturing Ukrainian sailors in the Ukrainian territorial waters and now this decree – these are all the pieces of one puzzle.

The puzzle of the Russian crawling occupation of Ukraine.

As stressed by President of Ukraine, signing of the decree is yet “another interference of the Russian Federation in the internal affairs of an independent state. A brutal violation of sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Ukraine. It is also a complete trampling by Russia on its obligations in the framework of the Minsk Agreements”. Agreements, which clearly state Russia’s commitments: to stop the shelling, withdraw its troops and armaments, free Ukrainian hostages, return control over the state border to Ukraine.

And in this regard, Russia's categorical refusal to support the initiative of Ukraine and the OSCE to launch an "Easter" armistice starting on April 26 is not accidental.

In addition, Kremlin deliberately and cynically violated international humanitarian law, which prohibits the occupation authorities from changing the citizenship of the inhabitants of the occupied territories.


The Russian Federation cannot hide any more the presence of its regular military and mercenaries in Donbas and conceal its driving role in the armed conflict there. That is why it decided to switch from the five-years-old mantra “they are not present there” (их там нет) to a revanchist slogan “there are our citizens there”. We’ve heard this before the Second World War, we’ve heard this in Georgia. We all know where this slogan leads.

Mr. President,

The provocative and destabilizing nature of the decision of the Russian side becomes obvious when one gives even a cursory look at the Russian-Georgian conflict in South Ossetia.

Just some facts.

In 2006 over 90% of residents of the Georgian region of South Ossetia held Russian citizenship.

On 8 August 2008 with the beginning of hostilities in South Ossetia the then Russian President makes the following statement at the meeting of the country’s Security Council. It’s worth reminding:

I quote: “Now in South Ossetia peaceful people, women, children, elderly are dying. Most of them are citizens of the Russian Federation.

In accordance with the Constitution and federal laws as the President of the Russian Federation I have to defend lives and dignity of Russian citizens, no matter where they are. The logic of our actions now is defined by these circumstances. We will not allow the death of our compatriots to go unpunished. Those responsible will be brought to account”. End of quote.

You know the rest.

More than ten years after the conflict Georgia’s territorial integrity is yet to be restored.

And the Geneva International Discussions, launched in 2008 with participation of the UN, OSCE, EU, are yet to bear fruit.

Now let’s come back to the situation in the Ukrainian Donbas.

Distributing en masse Russian passports in that region could be easily used by the Kremlin for legitimizing its military presence in the Ukrainian territory to protect would-be Russian citizens.

The Kremlin’s decision is a clear proof that Moscow is choosing the same scenario.

This is nothing else but a thinly veiled attempt to vindicate the ongoing occupation of these territories, to wrest them from Ukraine and dismember my country.

This is nothing else but an artificial pretext to continue sending Russian troops to Ukraine and sustain the undisguised military aggression against my country.

This is nothing else but a premediated and concerted effort to undercut prospects for a peace settlement on the basis of full and proper implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

Indeed, the illegitimate decree of the Russian President completely undermines the logic of the Minsk Agreements and in fact, makes their implementation hardly possible.

Judge for yourself: the purpose of the Minsk Agreements is reintegration of the temporarily occupied areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions into the legal, political and economic space of Ukraine.

Instead, the logic of the said decree is disintegration and consolidation of the total Russian control over the occupied territories.

Aren’t these clear signs of a creeping annexation?

Importantly, distributing Russian passports in the occupied territories will make it hardly possible to conduct there legitimate local elections, in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation and relevant OSCE standards under the OSCE/ODIHR monitoring, as envisaged by the Minsk Agreements.

I also have a specific question to Ambassador Nebenzia then:

Вы также не увидите ничего необычного, если жителям приграничных областей России другие государства станут раздавать в массовом и организованном порядкесвои паспорта?

Doesn’t the Russian leadership realize that its actions totally disrupt the Minsk Agreements?

Doesn’t Russia realize what kind of a ticking time bomb it plants?

Doesn’t Russia realize its political responsibility for undermining the process of peaceful settlement in the eastern part of Ukrainian Donbas?

I think the Kremlin realizes all this very well but does it on purpose - implementation of the said Agreements was never the intention of the Russian side.

Destabilization and fragmentation of Ukraine was a crystal-clear intent behind every move during the last 5 years.

But Russia will bear responsibility.

That is why reinforcing the international pressure on the Kremlin, including new targeted sanctions against the aggressor state, should be our common task.

This is the way to bring Russia back into the path of implementation of its obligations under the Minsk Agreements.

This is the way to peaceful settlement in the eastern Donbas.


The Council members can recall the meeting less than three months ago, on 12 February. Then the Russian representative was going out of his way to convince everybody that it was the Ukrainian side sabotaging implementation of the Agreements.

We have been accused of, and now I quote the Russian representative, “venturing new provocations that threaten only to worsen the situation and ruin the peace process”.

Well, it is very true that actions speak louder than words.

Are there any doubts in anyone’s mind as to who is responsible for stalling the implementation of the Minsk Agreements?

The answer should be obvious.

The purpose of Russia is pretty clear: to destabilize Ukraine – even more so in this post-electoral period - and to ruin the Minsk Agreements.

All this in direct defiance of the consistent calls and demands of the international community to refrain from unilateral steps undermining the Minsk process.

The illegal “passportization” of Ukrainian citizens also means that the Kremlin recognizes its occupation of Ukrainian territories in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and in fact makes another step to the annexation of this occupied territory.

By this decision, Russia once again debunks its own propaganda narrative that this is a so-called “internal conflict in Ukraine”.

Mr. President,

We, Russia’s neighbours know too well how skillfully Russia is using humanitarian pretext for interference in internal affairs and for invasion.

We learned this not from Finns, Poles or Georgians but from our own experience.

While we were under Soviet domination, Moscow applied forced russification and moved Russian settlers to non-Russian areas.

Now, under pretext of protecting ethnic Russians and all Russian-speakers Moscow is trying to restore its domination by meddling into internal affairs, and annexing territories.

We know too well in Donbass and in South Ossetia and Abkhazia that Russian tanks and rocket launchers are Moscow’s favorite tools for protection of Russian-speakers.

We also know, that the “purely humanitarian action” of passport distribution usually is a prelude to further aggression and annexation, as stressed today by the Parliament of Ukraine.

Mr. President,

Ukraine will do everything possible to protect, provide adequate assistance to, and ensure respect of the rights of its citizens who reside in the temporarily occupied territories.

And those who may be forced by the Russian occupation authorities into acquiring the Russian citizenship.

Yesterday’s decree of the Russian President is simply illegal. It is a blatant breach of Russia’s obligations and commitments according to bilateral and multilateral agreements and documents.

Ukraine does not recognize any consequences of that act. This Council should consider it null and void.

Ukraine urges Russia to cancel immediately the aforementioned presidential decree as well the decree from 18 February 2017 No.74 related to the recognition of documents and license plates issued in the occupied part of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

I call on this Council to prevent the worst scenario, to condemn resolutely the destructive and illegal actions of the Russian authorities and to restore the respect for the UN Charter.

Distinguished members of the Council,

You have a single choice around this table – to wrap-up this meeting without any decisions or you can turn once again to “expressing serious concerns” and to calling on both sides to respect the Minsk Agreements. But let’s be honest – unless the majority of this Council is ready to come up with the real action – even if it is to be challenged by Russia – the aggressive behavior of our neighbor will never be stopped. History knows that appeasement of aggressor never stops him.

Finally, since we have here representatives of the OSCE and OCHA, I would like to ask them some questions.

Ambassador Apakan and Ambassador Sajdik: in your assessment, does the decision of the Russian side on the citizenship contribute to implementation of the Minsk Agreements? Or does it complicate it?

ASG Muller: we heard from you on a difficult humanitarian situation in the occupied territories of the Donbas. In this regard, in your assessment, is the Russian President’s decree a warranted and justified response to this difficult humanitarian situation? Or in what ways can the Russian side really contribute to alleviating the humanitarian crisis it itself created?

I thank you