Statement by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Mr. Sergiy Kyslytsya at the United Nations Security Council briefing on Ukraine

Statement by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Mr. Sergiy Kyslytsya at the United Nations Security Council briefing on Ukraine

Madame President,

First of all, Madame President, I thank the Security Council members who expressed their strong solidarity with Ukraine in the face of the ongoing Russian aggression. I also express our appreciation of the informative presentations by the briefers.

When the Russian Federation called for a Council meeting on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Package of Measures — the third component of the Minsk agreements, one might have believed that Russia finally planned to report to this Council that it was going to honor the agreements endorsed in this very room in 2015.

UN Security Council resolution 2202 (2015) although not adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, has been a very important message from the Council to all parties to implement the agreements, most importantly, to respect a comprehensive ceasefire.

Would it make any difference if the Council then in 2015 had legal grounds to adopt a mandatory document under Chapter VII? Would a different legal nature of the document be a compelling enough reason for the Russian Federation to implement it? And here I have no time to dwell on the recent constitutional draft amendments, as proposed in Moscow, that effectively cancel a mandatory nature of international law and international treaties in the Russian Federation. Still, we believe that the Minsk agreements should be implemented, including by the Russian Federation, that so persistently disassociates itself from them.

Hence, where do we find ourselves today? It looks like the answer was given at 6.00 am local time when our positions were attacked.

The attack perpetrated today, on the fifth anniversary of the Debaltseve tragedy, is particularly cynical.

The Ukrainian armed forces provided an adequate response to this offensive, committed by the Russian occupation forces with the use of the Minsk-proscribed weapons, exercising Ukraine’s inherent right for self-defence.

It is clear that the Kremlin continues to pursue a strategy of escalation in Donbas in flagrant violation of Russia’s obligations they have undertaken as a party to the Minsk agreements.

As Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said earlier today, “this is an attempt to disrupt the peace process in Donbas which has started to move forward by small yet incessant steps”.

The Ukrainian leadership has confirmed that our commitment to ending this war and to adhering to the reached agreements remains unshaken — as does our resolve to repel any acts of armed aggression against Ukraine.

Madame President,

In total disregard of the agreements reached in Paris in December last year by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany, over the last two months our positions have been shelled more than 400 times.

Since the beginning of this year, 13 Ukrainian servicemen have been killed and almost 60 wounded.

Can anyone call this a frozen conflict?

Or perhaps a low-intensity conflict?

It is a WAR. The only ongoing war in Europe.

The full-scale war waged by the Russian troops and its mercenaries, with weapons and ammunition supplied by the Russian Federation.

That is exactly why OSCE SMM monitors, as we learn from the SMM reports, are still restricted of freedom of movement, as well as deprived of a proper access to the Russian-Ukrainian border.

Whenever reminded of its own Minsk commitments, Russia immediately points finger at Ukraine, saying that it is us who should hold a so-called direct dialogue with the representatives of two so-called “local authorities” in the temporarily occupied parts of Donbas.

But what are they?

How local is the recently appointed so-called acting head of “government of Donetsk” Vladimir Pashkov? The citizen of Russia, born in Siberia, graduated from the Russian Military Pacific Navy School and, until recently, the vice-governor of the Irkutsk region of Russia?

Would you like to know how close is Irkutsk to Donetsk? Some insignificant 6 000 km. Still local enough, in the opinion of Moscow, to rule in Donbas and to be talked to about its future.

There is no justification for someone from Siberia to tell us, Ukrainians, what to do on our territory.

The unfortunate experience of Georgia and Moldova with direct dialogue with Kremlin’s puppets proves it to be a road to nowhere, in the best case. But most probably — a highway to the trap.

Madame President,

As it has happened before, Russia tries to present the victim of its aggression as a perpetrator, which is one of the hallmarks of its information war against Ukraine.

Such vain attempts to twist the truth could have been viewed as pathetic and even laughable — if it were not a cynical insult to the memory of thousands of my compatriots who have lost their lives defending their land.

To the memory of those protesters, who were gunned down in cold blood in Maidan six years ago on the night of 18 February, which is now often called the Night of the Apocalypse.

To the memory of such heroes as Sergiy Kokurin — ethnic Russian, a father of two, the first Ukrainian citizen killed in Crimea by the Russian sniper on 
18 March 2014, during a military phase of the attempted annexation of the peninsula.

To the memory of Klavdia Sytnyk — a young single mother, a paramedic, who lost her life on the first day of this month under a barrage of Russian mortars while delivering medications to the wounded ones.

And to the memory of Maksim, a 22-year-old soldier, who was killed today, while repelling the offensive of the Russian occupation forces near Novotoshkivske.

Madame President,

We should not lose sight of the broader context of the Russian armed aggression against Ukraine.

Six years of Russia’s military invasion in Donbas left over 13 000 people killed and more than 27 000 wounded. More than 1.4 million residents of Donbas are now IDPs. The seized areas turned into a land of fear and terror. Local economy destroyed, equipment of enterprises wrecked or moved to Russia. More than 3.4 million people need humanitarian assistance this year. On top of that, this territory, according to the UN, has already become one of the most mine-contaminated in the world. The Russian Federation continues to supply its occupation forces with the weaponry, regular troops and mercenaries to the extent that now they dwarf many European armies (around 500 tanks, around 1000 armored combat vehicles, almost 130 MLRS, almost 800 artillery systems).

Just last year, the Russian Federation sent into the occupied territories of Donbas over 4 000 tons of weapons and munitions.

As if it were not enough, Russia also pursues illegal passportization in the temporarily occupied territories of Donbas, which has now reached an industrial level — more than 200 000 persons were issued Russian passports there.

Madame President,

The east is not the only frontline in Ukraine. In the south, as a result of Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea, the peninsula has been turned into a human rights ghetto and a huge military base, upending regional security as it is used by Russia even for its Syria intervention. The number of political hostages skyrocketed, Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars repressed. A “wall of silence” was built around the peninsula, repelling any international scrutiny in violation of UNGA resolutions. According to the UN Secretary-General’s report on Crimea, and regular reports by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, Russia pursues the covert demographic change, bringing more than 130 000 military and civil servants in and pushing the local population out. Militarization of the occupied Crimea is in full gear, as Russia brings additional troops and sophisticated weapons, including nuclear delivery capabilities (submarines, warships, combat aircraft — you name it). The overall number of Russian militaries there has increased almost three-fold. Such actions pose a serious threat to the Black Sea region and far beyond.

By launching the so-called “Crimean bridge”, not only Russia grossly violated international law and bilateral treaty obligations, it incurred huge economic losses to Ukraine and posed an exponential environmental threat to the Black and Azov seas.

Madame President,

Against all odds, Ukraine works for peace.

Achieving peace was a major motivator for Ukrainians who cast their votes in the last year’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

Another demand of the voters remains bringing home those who have been illegally detained in the occupied territories of Ukraine and in Russia, who were held in inhumane conditions and often tortured for many years. There are still over 200 Ukrainians held in in uncontrolled part of Donbas, as well as over a hundred Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars in Crimea and Russia.

The Ukrainian side successfully initiated two major mutual releases of detainees with Russia and the work is ongoing to ensure their “all for all” release. I avail of this opportunity and call on the colleagues to join me in our appeal to the Russian side to stop preventing the ICRC from unhindered access to detainees and its search for missing persons.

We believe that the agreements reached in December in Paris should bring conflict resolution closer. Full and comprehensive ceasefire, and unhindered OSCE SMM 24/7 access throughout the entire occupied territory would facilitate the process.

At the time when the Russian Foreign Minister gives an endless list why the next Normandy Summit is not feasible, we are working hard and doing our best to make it possible, as agreed by the leaders of the four countries.

As President Zelenskyy stressed just a few days ago, we are fully committed to this endeavor, as evidenced by the new initiative on sectoral disengagement, where the OSCE SMM shall play a key verification role to ensure that a given sector is free from illegally armed groups, foreign armed formations and military equipment.

We are looking forward to having local elections throughout the territory of Ukraine, including its temporarily occupied parts. When, of course, security and political conditions permit it, in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation, the OSCE Copenhagen Document and under Ukraine’s control of its internationally recognized borders.

We are working hard to finally bring this Russian-Ukrainian war, that was not started by us, to an end, no matter how hard the other side tries to prolong it to bleed Ukraine dry.

We will continue to achieve sustainable peace exclusively through peaceful, diplomatic means, in accordance with international law.

This could be done only together with you, including those present here, who are genuinely interested in bringing peace to Europe as we are about to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of the World War II and of the creation of the United Nations. Otherwise, our anniversary gathering in New York this fall will be rather a gruesome memorial service than a celebration of global peace and security.

Madame President,

Today’s discussion does not cover all essential elements of putting an end to the Russia’s war against Ukraine, and in particular, to its temporary occupation of parts of our territory, including Crimea.

Therefore, it was decided and the day after tomorrow the UN General Assembly will consider agenda item “Situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine” in Donbas and Crimea, as it is fundamentally important that the liberation of the Ukrainian territory cannot be called completed until the last Russian soldier left the peninsula.

Please, join us on Thursday in the General Assembly Hall.

Заканчивая своё выступление, я перейду на русский язык, чтобы меня, возможно, услышали россияне, которым небезразличны настоящее и будущее их страны.

Уж коль сегодня зашла речь о новом “руководителе” Донецка из Иркутска, я хотел бы напомнить о том, что лет так 90 назад, в маленьком сибирском городке в Иркутской же области с романтичным названием Зима, в семье балтийского немца Александра Гангуса, сына Рудольфа Гангуса, родился сын.

Примечательным для нашей сегодняшней дискуссии мне представляется то, что это был именно тот поэт, который, вернувшись из поездки на Запад в разгар Холодной войны, написал стихотворение “Хотят ли русские войны?”. Я думаю, что многие уже догадались, что речь идёт об Евгении Евтушенко.

“Хотят ли русские войны?

Спросите вы у тишины

над ширью пашен и полей
и у берез и тополей.

Спросите вы у тех солдат,

что под березами лежат,

и пусть вам скажут их сыны,

хотят ли русские войны”

И вот, знаете что? Я тут подумал, что ответом на вопрос “Хотят ли русские войны?” в условиях сегодняшней России станет парад 9 мая на Красной площади, когда мы увидим, вынесут ли портреты Сталина его участники. Того Сталина, которого в свое время вынесли из мавзолея, но не из умов.

“Но как из наследников Сталина — Сталина вынести?” — написал всё тот же Евтушенко в 1962 году.

И продолжил:

“Пусть мне говорят: “Успокойся…”-

спокойным я быть не сумею.

Покуда наследники Сталина

живы еще на земле,

мне будет казаться,

что Сталин — еще в мавзолее”.

Сегодня, когда в России набирает обороты прославление Сталина, когда его имя обеляется, когда растут как грибы памятники этому диктатору и убийце, я хочу закончить своё выступление вопросом к российскому представителю:

“Так хотят ли русские войны”?

Благодарю за ваше внимание и терпение.