Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the UN Security Council Arria-formula meeting on the siege of Aleppo (Syria)

Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the UN Security Council Arria-formula meeting on the siege of Aleppo (Syria)

Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the UN Security Council Arria-formula meeting on the siege of Aleppo (Syria)

(8 August 2016)

Let me cordially thank our briefers today for their sobering comments that serve as a timely reminder that the situation in Syria is moving in a fundamentally wrong direction.

Since April, the situation in the Aleppo province has been steadily deteriorating with the Syrian regime forces moving closer to cutting the vital supply line along the Castello road. During a number of sessions of the UN Security Council we raised this issue. Now those fears became a reality — a real-time unfolding of a humanitarian disaster for around 300 thousand people. Only in the course of the last week six hospitals were fully or partially destroyed by the Syrian and Russian airstrikes. In practical terms it means a death sentence to the thousands of people in Eastern Aleppo.

The so-called “humanitarian initiative” recently proposed by the Russian Federation to create evacuation corridors for civilians to leave Eastern Aleppo is in fact quite revealing in unmasking the true intentions of Bashar Al Assad and his allies. Despite their obligations and commitments, in particular to adhere the cessation of hostilities, they expand the offensive on Aleppo trying to siege the city.

All what is need is already stipulated in the relevant resolutions, namely a full and unhindered humanitarian access to all besieged and hard-to-reach areas. Which, by the way, is made crystal clear in the ISSG May 17 statement signed by the Russian Federation. All sieges must be lifted, not 80 %, not 99 % — but all. Therefore, Ukraine strongly believes that the humanitarian access to eastern Aleppo city must be restored without any delay or preconditions.

The worst thing about it is that the continuous policy of denial of access demonstrated by the Syrian authorities is not only poisoning the prospects of a peaceful settlement but is in fact taking the last hope away from the Syrian people. That is why it is becoming increasingly important for the international community to put pressure on the Syrian government and its allies to finally start to honor their commitments.

A massacre that might unfold as a result of such a belligerent zero-sum strategy implemented by Assad and his allies will have disastrous ramifications of yet unseen magnitude for the Syrians living inside Aleppo as well as for the entire Syria.

The pace of events during the last two months leads me to a conclusion that the main obstacle to the peace process right now is that the regime is convinced that with the help of its allies it is capable of imposing a military solution to the Syrian conflict. Thus, we have to say it loud and clear — the continuing attempts to siege Aleppo effectively mean the end of the Vienna process.

The Russian Federation has on numerous occasions underscored its commitment to delivering a political solution in Syria. Yet its acts were completely different — the only thing Russia has delivered in Syria is more weapons and destruction. Numerous reports on the use of thermobaric and other kinds of indiscriminate attack weapons should not be left without response. Information about likely use of chemical weapons is extremely disturbing and Ukraine expects the relevant report on the latest incident from the OPCW.

Unfortunately, Ukraine’s warning at the Council open session on Resolution 2268 back in February was not heeded. Let me recall that back then we alerted the UN membership that, being de-facto a party to the conflict, Russia had no moral or logic ground to impose itself as a mediator in the Syrian peace process. It is precisely the Russian Federation’s support for the Assad regime that has led to the current disaster in Syria and taken the violence to a new level. As in Ukraine, Russia continues to stir up the violence in Syria including through supplying military personnel, providing arms and ammunition, conducting combat operations and spreading false propaganda.

Everybody must make a choice at this point — you are either on the side of a political solution or the escalation of violence. Moving simultaneously in both directions is impossible.