Press Conference by Security Council President on Programme of Work for February
The Security Council will address the implementation of the Minsk agreements and explore the adverse consequences of sanctions, its President for February told a Headquarters press conference today.
Vassily A. Nebenzia (Russian Federation) said that the Council will commence its work with a signature event on preventing the humanitarian and unintended consequences of sanctions, including through exemption mechanisms, on 7 February — after taking a week off in honour of the Chinese Lunar New Year and the opening of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
On 16 February, a second signature event will be held to discuss cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations in maintaining international peace and security (Collective Security Treaty Organization). Secretary-General António Guterres is expected to brief the Council during the debate, which will explore efforts to stabilize the situation in Central Asia, including in Kazakhstan, he said.
On the following day, the Council will meet to mark the seventh anniversary since its adoption of resolution 2202 (2015), which endorsed the package of Minsk agreements on Ukraine, he continued, pointing out that the discussion would not be on its implementation, but its “non-implementation”, as “unfortunately, Ukraine has basically not made a single move to meet its obligations”.
Further, on 9 February, Under-Secretary-General Vladimir Voronkov of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office, will brief the Council on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.
Turning to other scheduled activities, he said meetings will be held on Somalia and Yemen on 15 February, with briefings by Special Representative James Swan and Special Envoy Hans Grundberg, respectively. Moreover, on 10 February, a meeting will be held on the extension of sanctions on the Sudan.
Further, meetings will also be held on the situation in the Central African Republic, Haiti and Iraq, as well as regular meetings on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestine question, he said. On 25 February, he hoped meetings on all three tracks of the Syrian crisis will be held, noting that thus far, Special Envoy Geir Pedersen and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths were slated to brief the Council on that day.
Responding to questions on ongoing talks to resolve tensions around Ukraine, he said it is wrong to link proposals on security guarantees made by his country to the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with the situation in Ukraine “as presented by our Western partners”, and emphasized that agreements adopted by Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) members in Astana in 1999 contained clauses providing for any country to choose their allies, as well as a related clause that security is “indivisible”, which meant that one country’s security cannot be assured at the expense of the other. “That’s what NATO countries have been ignoring all these years,” he stressed.
Addressing questions on the Minsk agreements, he said, “I pray they’re implemented, which is what we have been crying for since day one after they were adopted [by the Council] ”, adding that while the package can help settle the crisis, Ukraine “openly claims they’re unimplementable, and wants to reshape them”.
Responding to a slew of questions on the exact number of troops and missiles amassed along the border with Ukraine, he referred the questioner to the Russian Ministry of Defence, stating: “I am not the Minister of Defence, so I cannot tell you.” Noting that differing figures of troop numbers were being reported — from 100,000 to 126,000 — in Ukraine, he said: “We never announced these figures, and we don’t know who counted them.” He went on to point out that during a similar situation in April 2021, when Russian Federation troops moved in and moved out of the border area, “nobody made a fuss”. Yet, this time, similar actions are being described as presenting “an imminent danger” to Ukraine, he said, adding that some NATO countries were supplying that country with weapons, which contravenes the Minsk agreements.
In response to questions on countries which will be discussed during the debate on sanctions, aside from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said there are countries which had suffered from the “over-implementation” of sanctions even longer than that country, adding: “I will not betray exactly who, but you will know.”
Asked about cooperation with the United States, he said he wished that it could extend to realms beyond issues on which both countries have a joint interest, or on which Washington, D.C., has interests of its own. Following the summit between United States President Joseph Biden and his Russian Federation counterpart, President Vladimir Putin, in Geneva, he said attempts were made to resolve areas in which cooperation was “non-existent”, including on cybersecurity, which has been subjected to a “tug-of-war” between both countries. However, the issue of Ukraine overshadows everything, he said, adding that during the 31 January Council meeting on “the current non-existent crisis”, United States Permanent Representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield “didn’t mention the Minsk agreements once, which is telling”.
On Afghanistan, he said there was no progress on the unfreezing of Afghan assets, which his country has been advocating for as humanitarian assistance will not save the Afghan people from the dire situation; however, colleagues are pointing out that the funds cannot be legally transferred due to the decisions of United States courts. He expressed hope that resolution 2615 (2021), passed in December, will permit countries to help the people of Afghanistan survive.
Asked about Myanmar, a year after the military coup, he said he counted on diplomatic efforts by the current Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), adding: “the Council is working on a product on Myanmar as we speak”.
For the full programme of work, please see: www.un.org/securitycouncil/events/calendar.