Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said “Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics” had declared independence since 2014, but Russia only recognized them on Monday, despite a high level of support for doing so both in the regions themselves and in Russian society from the very beginning.
He said Russia urged the Ukrainian Government to listen to the aspirations of the people living in Donbass and the Russian speaking residents of the country, but this was instead met with violence. He said the Ukrainian Government did everything it could to sabotage and ultimately destroy the Minsk agreements, adding that Kiev refused to speak directly with the representatives of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Nebenzia recalled that in all other conflicts the Security Council calls for direct dialogue between the parties, but Ukraine seems to be the exception to this rule. He said Russian recognition of what he called the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics does not change the makeup of the parties to the Minsk Agreements as the two had already declared their independence. He stressed that Russia is not a party to the Agreements.
The Russia ambassador said, “Today, we can see that many colleagues want to sign up to the idea that the Minsk agreements are dead, but that’s not the case. And Kiev is still bound to implement them. We remain open to diplomacy for a diplomatic solution. However, allowing a new bloodbath in the Donbass is something we do not intend to do. Unfortunately, we are forced to note the extremely negative role played in all of this by our Western colleagues led by the USA instead of forcing Kiev to implement its obligations. They have merely been openly egging Ukraine on repeating the meaningless mantra that the obligations under the Minsk agreement are not being implemented by Russia, which as we’ve repeatedly underscored is not even a party to the Minsk agreements.”
Nebenzia said some 60,000 refugees have fled to Russia as a result of Ukrainian shelling of the regions. He called upon Western countries to “think twice, to set emotions to one side, and not to make the situation worse.” He added, “No one other than you can hold back the militaristic plans of Kiev and force it to stop the shelling and provocations against the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, which in these new conditions could have extremely dangerous consequences. In accordance with the agreements that were signed today and on the basis of their requests from the Republics, peacekeeping functions on their territories will be carried out by the armed forces of the Russian Federation.”
The Russian ambassador said, in the last few days, with the sharp intensification in military activity from the Ukrainian army along the contact line, the lives of thousands of civilians was put under real threat once again, as in 2014 and 2015. He said the main aim of Russia’s decision was to protect and preserve those people, adding that this is more important than the threats his country was receiving.
Ukrainian ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya said the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine have been and will remain unchangeable, regardless of any statements and actions by the Russian Federation. He said Ukraine unequivocally qualifies the recent Russian actions as a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, adding that the political leadership of the Russian Federation bears full responsibility for the outcomes of the decision taken.
Kyslytsya said the steps taken by Russia undermine peaceful efforts and ruin the existing negotiating frameworks. He said Ukraine expects clear and efficient steps of support by its partners.
The Ukrainian ambassador said his country is committed to a political, diplomatic settlement and would not succumb to provocations. He added, “In accordance with Article 51 of the Charter, Ukraine has the inherent right to individual and collective self-defence. We are committed to a peaceful and diplomatic path, and we will stay firmly on it. We are on our land. We are not afraid of anything or anyone. We owe nothing to anyone. And we will not give away anything to anyone. There should be no doubts whatsoever.”
Kyslytsya said Ukraine demands that Russia cancel the decision on recognition and return to negotiations table. He condemned the order to deploy additional Russian troops in Ukrainian territories and demanded the immediate and completely verifiable withdrawal of the troops.
The Ukrainian ambassador said, “The United Nations is sick. That’s a matter of fact. It’s been hit by the virus spread by the Kremlin. Will it succumb to this virus? It is in the hands of the membership. Today, the Kremlin copy-pasted word by word the decree on Georgia of 2008; word by word; copy-pasted, copy-pasted. No creativity whatsoever. The copying machine in the Kremlin works very well. Who is the next among the members of the United Nations?”
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