Situation along Russian Federation-Ukraine Border Can Only Be Resolved through Diplomacy, Political Affairs Chief Tells Security Council
Calling for de-escalation of tensions along the borders between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, the United Nations political affairs chief told the Security Council today that any military intervention by one country in another would be against international law and the Charter of the United Nations, as Moscow denied any intention of launching a war on that neighbouring State.
“The Secretary-General has made clear that there can be no alternative to diplomacy and dialogue,” said Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, during a public meeting of the 15-member organ on the recent military build-up along the border with Ukraine.
Citing the reported deployment of over 100,000 troops and heavy weaponry by the Russian Federation along the border areas, as well as unspecified numbers of Russian troops and weaponry being sent to Belarus for joint military drills, she noted that members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are also reportedly planning additional deployments in the alliance’s Eastern European States, with 8,500 troops on high alert.
Urging all actors to refrain from provocative rhetoric and actions and maximize the chance for diplomacy to succeed, she stressed that achieving lasting, mutually acceptable arrangements is the best way to safeguard regional and international peace and security in the interest of all.
The international community must intensify its support for the efforts of the Normandy Four (France, Germany, Ukraine and the Russian Federation) and of the Trilateral Contact Group led by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to ensure the implementation of the Minsk agreements, endorsed by the Security Council in its resolution 2202 (2015). The United Nations is fully committed to the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, she emphasized.
Today’s meeting was requested by the United States, whose representative argued that the Russian military build-up along Ukraine’s borders constitutes a threat to international peace and security. The Russian Federation’s delegate strongly opposed holding the meeting, saying that positioning troops within its territory is a domestic matter, not a threat to global stability.
The Council then put the matter to a vote, in which 10 Council members supported the holding of the meeting, defeating votes in opposition cast by the Russian Federation and China. Gabon, India and Kenya abstained.
In the ensuing discussion, the representative of the United States warned that the Russian Federation’s current actions threaten not only Ukraine but also Europe more broadly. “Our charge is not only to address conflicts after they occur, but to prevent them from happening in the first place,” she said. Moscow also plans to bring additional troops and weapons into Belarus in the coming weeks, close to the border with Ukraine. “This is an escalation and a pattern of aggression that we’ve seen from [the Russian Federation] again and again,” she said, citing past incursions into Crimea, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and other parts of Ukraine.
In a rebuttal, the Russian Federation’s delegate said troops have been deployed inside his country on various occasions before without the hysterics currently being witnessed. Rejecting accusations that Moscow intends to attack Ukraine, he said while Western countries claim to be trying to ease tensions, they are instead whipping up panic. Today’s meeting is especially ironic as the United States holds the world record for troop deployments outside its borders and its military adventures have killed hundreds of thousands around the globe.
Kenya’s representative said his delegation abstained on the procedural vote, as the impasse between NATO and the Russian Federation is “imminently solvable”, with the diplomatic steps under way already showing promise. Where there are disputes over territorial jurisdiction or security interests, “we strongly support patient diplomacy as the first, second and third option”, he affirmed. The United States, NATO and the Russian Federation have an opportunity to establish a diplomatic framework that will allow them to resolve their differences.
France’s delegate said the priority is to achieve a rapid de-escalation of the tense situation, as demonstrated in recent talks by the Normandy Four and in today’s Council meeting. If Moscow refuses to pursue the path of dialogue and respect for international law, the response will be robust and united, carrying severe costs. However, the European Union stands ready to engage if Moscow chooses dialogue and cooperation.
China’s representative said that the claim by the United States that this will lead to war is unfounded, given the Russian Federation’s declaration that it has no plans to launch military action. All parties should continue to resolve their differences through dialogue, he said, adding that several Council members agreed that the situation called for “quiet diplomacy, not microphone diplomacy”.
Ukraine’s delegate said his country is not going to launch a military offensive neither in Donbas nor in Crimea nor anywhere else. Ukraine sees no alternative to peaceful resolution of the ongoing conflict and restoration of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Ukraine has inherent sovereign right to choose its own security arrangements, including treaties of alliance, which cannot be questioned by the Russia Federation.
The representative of Belarus explained that the upcoming joint military exercises with the Russian Federation will be carried out to verify the responses of their forces, given the commitments of their alliance, to assess their preparedness to eradicate threats and respond to the humanitarian situation, including the ongoing migration crisis. Such planned actions are purely defensive and pose no threat to European countries, or his country’s neighbours.
Poland’s delegate, voicing growing alarm over the Russian Federation’s continuous large-scale military build-up on the border with Ukraine, declared: “We cannot keep quiet because what is happening in our neighbourhood constitutes a serious threat to international peace and security, reaching far beyond our region and continent.” As OSCE Chair, Poland is open to facilitating talks on European security, he added.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Albania, United Kingdom, India, Ghana, Ireland, Gabon, Brazil, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, Norway and Lithuania (also for Estonia and Latvia).
The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 12:10 p.m.
A procedural vote was requested by the Russian Federation on whether the Security Council will hold an open meeting on the situation in Ukraine, which was called for by the United States.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said that the deployment of troops within his country’s territory is a domestic affair, not a threat to international peace and security, rejecting the reasoning of the United States request for today’s meeting. His delegation has refused unfounded accusations repeatedly. Calling for a meeting in an open format represents “megaphone diplomacy”, which will not help bring the Council members together. Such a request has put delegations in an extremely difficult position. Ukraine’s top officials, including the President and the Defence Minister, have stated that they do not see the Russian Federation’s activity as a threat. He urged all Council members not to abuse the Council’s rostrum. The Russian Federation, during its presidency next month, intends to hold an annual Security Council discussion on 17 February to discuss implementation of the Minsk agreements in the pursuit of a settlement to the situation in Ukraine. The United States can fully express its views during that meeting, he said, asking Council members to reject that delegation’s provocative motion.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) said her delegation called for this meeting because of what has been witnessed on the borders with Ukraine. The Russian Federation is building up a military presence close to their neighbours. That country has invaded some of the neighbours before. The Russian Federation has occupied their territories. All previous meetings were held in private, and now it is time to convene a public meeting. To the Russian Federation’s delegate, she said, this open meeting will “make you uncomfortable”. The United States honours the Charter of the United Nations to protect peace and security. It is not about rhetoric but about peace and security of a United Nations Member State.
By a vote of 10 in favour to 2 against (China, Russian Federation), with 3 abstentions (Gabon, India and Kenya), the Council decided to proceed with the debate.
ROSEMARY DICARLO, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, noting that the United Nations is closely following ongoing diplomatic discussions between the Russian Federation and the United States, as well as members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), said that while the Secretary-General is not playing an active part in these talks, he unequivocally supports diplomatic efforts at all levels and is greatly concerned about the escalation of tensions and the dangerous military build-up in the heart of Europe.
Noting that 100,000 troops with heavy weaponry were deployed along the border with Ukraine, while an additional number of troops were deployed to Belarus, in addition to NATO’s troops being placed on high alert, she said such actions and accusations made during discussions have created uncertainty and apprehension for many who felt they presaged an impending military confrontation. “The Secretary-General has made clear there is no alternative to diplomacy and dialogue,” she said, adding: “There should not be any military intervention in this context. Any such intervention will be against international law and the United Nations Charter.”
The United Nations will contribute to avoid confrontation and create conditions for a diplomatic solution, she continued, welcoming steps in this regard, and urging actors to build on such efforts, engage in good faith and refrain from provocative rhetoric. Reiterating the United Nations support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within internationally recognized borders, she underlined the need for the international community to intensify the efforts of the Normandy Four and the OSCE-led Trilateral Contact Group to ensure the implementation of the Minsk agreements, also in line with Council resolution 2202 (2015).
Welcoming the recent meeting of the Normandy Four in Paris, as well as efforts by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, she said United Nations agencies in Ukraine will continue to deliver their mandate. Safe humanitarian access must be respected to address the 2.9 million people in need, the majority of whom reside in non-government-controlled areas, she said.
Recalling that the conflict in Ukraine has claimed 14,000 lives since 2014, and is tragically far from resolved, she said it is “painfully obvious that any new escalation will mean more needless killing and destruction”, adding: “Everyone’s position is this should be inconceivable; the fact that it is not should give us pause.” Any escalation would deal a blow to the architecture to maintain international peace and security, just when we need it most, she said, recalling the Secretary-General’s appeal to de-escalate tension and continue on the diplomatic path.
Ms. THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) describing the current situation as urgent and dangerous, said the Russian Federation’s actions strike at the very heart of the Charter of the United Nations. Recalling that the Council was formed in the wake of the Second World War to address the kind of threat that Ukraine now faces, she declared: “Our charge is not only to address conflicts after the occur, but to prevent them from happening in the first place,” she said. The Russian Federation’s current actions threaten not only Ukraine but also Europe more broadly. It also threatens the very international order the Council is charged with protecting, which includes the principle that one country cannot simply redraw another country’s borders by force. Noting that more than 100,000 Russian Federation troops are amassed at the Ukrainian border — the largest mobilization of troops in Europe in decades — she also cited evidence that Moscow plans to bring additional troops and weapons into Belarus in the coming weeks, close to the border with Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Russian Federation’s military and intelligence services are spreading misinformation and painting Ukraine and Western States as aggressors in order to fabricate a pretext for an attack.
“This is an escalation and a pattern of aggression that we’ve seen from [the Russian Federation] again and again,” she said, citing past incursions into Crimea, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and other parts of Ukraine. Warning of the devastating humanitarian impact of a further aggression, she rejected claims that Ukraine is anything less than a sovereign country entitled to determining its own future. Asking what it would mean if former empires had licence to reclaim past territories by force, she said the United States and its partners continue to do everything possible to resolve the current crisis peacefully. “We do not want confrontation, but we will be decisive, swift and united if [the Russian Federation] decides to invade Ukraine,” she stressed. The test of Moscow’s good faith is now whether it will come to, and remain at, the negotiating table in the days and weeks ahead.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) expressed deep concern about the Russian Federation’s recent military build-up near Ukraine, calling on both Moscow and the Council to expressly confirm respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The threat of military attack by the Russian Federation against Ukraine is a challenge to the European security order and the entire international security architecture, as well as an affront to the Helsinki Final Act and its Decalogue, upon which OSCE is founded. Events playing out at the Russian-Ukrainian border are from a well-known playbook, he said, recalling events in Georgia in 2008 and in Ukraine since 2014: the Russian Federation has used military violence as a means of achieving its political and geopolitical goals. However, countries are — and should be — free to choose the organizations they wish to join, whether it be NATO, the European Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organization or Commonwealth of Independent States. “Sovereign countries take decisions by their free will, not under threat of a gun,” he stressed. The crisis should be resolved through dialogue, including steps towards de-escalation and talks to seek solutions. Instrumentalization of ethnic minorities, targeted cyberattacks, political interference for political gain and a growing tendency towards genocide denial and the glorification of war crimes and war criminals are all acts that should be treated as a threat to peace and security, “because they are”.
JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom) recalled the Russian Federation’s statements to the Security Council in 2008 that it was sending peacekeepers into Georgia, when in reality, it was invading an independent, democratic country; and in 2014, denying the presence of its forces in Crimea, when it was actually annexing part of an independent, democratic Ukraine. Today, Moscow denies that its forces pose a threat to Ukraine, but disinformation, cyberattacks and destabilizing plots directed against an independent, democratic country exist. The United Kingdom remains ready to address mutual security concerns and is committed to a constructive dialogue if the Russian Federation is genuine about finding a diplomatic solution. Any Russian invasion or act of aggression against Ukraine would be a gross breach of international law and Moscow’s commitments under the Charter. Conflict would result in bloodshed and destabilize the entire international community, he warned, urging the Russian Federation to declare in the Council that it will stand down its troops, abide by its Charter commitments, has no plans to invade Ukraine, will abstain from the threat or use of force against its neighbour and not further undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty or territorial integrity.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France), calling on Moscow to de-escalate the situation, respect international law and engage in dialogue through existing mechanisms, said the priority is to achieve a rapid de-escalation of the tense situation, as demonstrated by recent talks in the Normandy format in Paris with Germany, Ukraine and the Russian Federation, as well as today’s Council meeting. Dialogue must be based on principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity alongside European security concerns. If the Russian Federation refuses to pursue the path of dialogue and respect for international law, the response will be robust and united, carrying severe costs. However, the European Union stands ready to engage to develop its relations with the Russian Federation if Moscow chooses dialogue and cooperation.
T.S. TIRUMURTI (India) welcomed the unconditional observance of the July 2020 ceasefire in Donbas and reaffirmation of the Minsk agreements as the basis of work under the ongoing Normandy format, including commitment of all sides to reduce disagreements on the way forward. Noting the Normandy format will meet in Berlin in two weeks, he urged all parties to continue to engage through all diplomatic channels and keep working towards the full implementation of the Minsk package. “Quiet and constructive diplomacy is the need of the hour”, he said, adding that any steps that increase tension may best be avoided by all sides in the larger interest of securing international peace and security. More than 20,000 Indian students and nationals live and study in different parts of Ukraine, including in its border areas. The well-being of Indian nationals is of utmost priority.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana) said that the Council’s responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security makes it imperative to encourage the path of dialogue and preventive diplomacy. Noting that while there has been a build-up of Russian Federation troops along its internationally recognized border, he said those troops are presently within its national territory. He also noted a concern of Ukraine and other parties over the intentions of the Russian Federation’s military build-up. Noting with concern the implications the situation has had on Ukraine’s economy and neighbouring markets, he welcomed the call by that country’s President for an easing of the strong narratives on the situation. This must be a time for confidence-building to facilitate a restoration of normalcy for the people of Ukraine.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) said her country, along with the European Union, is an unwavering supporter of Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. She called for calm, de-escalation and the pursuit of diplomacy, and for constructive and determined engagement on all dialogue tracks, including the Normandy format and within the OSCE, recalling that the United Nations Charter principles include the sovereign equality and territorial integrity of States. “It is the fundamental right of a sovereign and independent State to chart its own path in the world; to choose its own foreign policy and to make arrangements for the security and defence of its territory,” she stressed, citing the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris and the Charter of European Security. Noting that Ireland marked 100 years of independence earlier this month, she said “just as we would not accept another State determining our foreign and security policy, Ukraine similarly has the sovereign right to choose its own policies”. She called for a negotiated, diplomatic solution that reinforces the collective security in Europe. “We have the institutions and the mechanisms within which to pursue this solution,” she assured.
ZHANG JUN (China) stated that his country opposes the holding of the open meeting and cannot align with the point of view of the United States in convening it. There have been tensions about the deployment of troops; however, the United States’ claim that this will lead to war are unfounded, given the Russian Federation’s declaration that it has no plans to launch military action, and Ukraine’s own position that it does not need a war. “What is the basis for countries to insist there may be a war?” he asked. All parties should continue to resolve their differences through dialogue, he said, adding that several Council members agreed that the situation called for “quiet diplomacy, not microphone diplomacy”. He expressed regret that the United States did not accept such a constructive proposal, adding that the holding of an open meeting is not conducive to defusing tensions, or facilitating concrete progress on the issue. He called on all parties concerned to stay calm, to not aggravate or “hype up” the crisis, and to resolve their differences on an equal and respectful basis. He went on to reiterate China’s position in favour of implementing the new Minsk agreements, endorsed by the Security Council through resolution 2202 (2015), “a binding document recognized by all parties”. Turning to the expansion of NATO, which “epitomizes group politics” and prolongs a “cold war mentality”, he called on all parties to come up with a balanced approach to the issue through negotiations, while heeding and respecting the legitimate security concerns of the Russian Federation.
Mr. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said that, far from refusing to discuss the situation in Ukraine, his delegation simply does not understand what the Council is attempting to discuss today. The Russian Federation’s troops have been deployed within its own territory on various occasions before without the hysterics currently being witnessed, he said, adding that there is no proof of the very serious accusation that Moscow intends to attack Ukraine. While Western countries claim to be trying to ease tensions, they are instead whipping up panic. “You are almost calling for this … as if you want to make your words become a reality,” he said, noting that Moscow has no plans to invade Ukraine. Today’s actions are yet another attempt to drive a wedge between Moscow and Kyiv, he said, noting that the Ukrainian population is actively being brainwashed and inculcated with anti-Russian thinking and a belief that Ukraine must join forces with Europe at any cost.
Citing the Russian Federation’s broad security demands, which are one part of an agreement that could improve the security situation in Europe, he asked the delegation of the United States to show any evidence “other than bogus narratives” that Moscow is planning an attack. He also questioned the figure of 100,000 troops, pointing out that Moscow has never confirmed that number. Recalling that the United States once came before the Council claiming to have evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, he declared: “What happened to that country is well known to one and all,” he said. Indeed, today’s meeting is especially ironic as the United States holds the world record for troop deployments outside its borders and its military adventures have killed hundreds of thousands around the globe. The current crisis in Ukraine is an entirely domestic one, and there is no other option but to adhere to the Minsk package of agreements to resolve it, he stressed, warning against attempts to sabotage those crucial accords.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon), describing information about the deployment of Russian Federation troops near Ukraine as “disturbing”, called on all stakeholders to demonstrate restraint and follow the path of dialogue. The international community must activate the channels of preventive diplomacy as enshrined in Chapter VI of the Charter of the United Nations, he said, adding that the current standoff only deepens long-standing divisions in the Council at a time when cohesive action is needed most. “The strength of this Council resides in its unity,” he stressed, echoing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent pleas for all parties to remain calm and refrain from whipping up panic.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) urged all parties to exercise maximum restraint and to engage constructively in talks aimed at resolving their differences. “There is room to restore confidence and find a lasting diplomatic solution to this crisis,” he said. It is imperative to apply the United Nations Charter principles in a non-selective manner, he said, noting that the prohibition of use of force, the peaceful resolution of disputes and principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and protection of human rights are pillars of the collective security system. He highlighted the need for good faith in addressing the legitimate security concerns of all parties, including those of the Russian Federation and Ukraine, encouraging them to pursue talks on implementation of the Minsk agreements, based on resolution 2202 (2015), and welcoming the resumption of talks within the Normandy format.
MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya) said his delegation abstained on the procedural vote, as the impasse between NATO and the Russian Federation is “imminently solvable”, with the diplomatic steps under way already showing promise. Where there are disputes over territorial jurisdiction or security interests, “we strongly support patient diplomacy as the first, second and third option”, he affirmed. The United States, NATO and the Russian Federation have an opportunity to establish a diplomatic framework that will allow them to resolve their differences. “Compromise is not surrender.” In fact, it was the rejection of compromise that led to the cold war and intervention in Africa, with internal divisions “weaponized at the altar of geopolitical rivalry”, confirming the adage that “when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers”. He called for an urgent, substantive change to the structure and culture of the Security Council, stressing that “we can no longer deny others the power of permanent membership and veto power if today’s permanent five are unable to deliver on the Council’s mandate”. Urging all parties to ensure that negotiations respect Ukraine’s security, sovereignty and territorial integrity, he said innovative diplomacy could also allow for agreements between today’s major Powers, inspired by the 1975 Helsinki Accords. Such agreements, however, must advance the principle of non-interference in Africa and the rest of the world, he said, urging Ukraine’s leaders to strengthen national unity among all Ukrainians as the surest path to lasting peace.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) said basic principles to consider regarding this matter, in line with the Charter, are the prohibition of the threat or use of force, non-intervention and the peaceful settlement of disputes. On the first principle, the escalation of tensions in Eastern Europe represents a potential threat to international peace and security, thus falling under the Council’s purview. Given the prevailing mistrust, all actions that might be considered hostile must be avoided. The Russian Federation’s representative was clear that there is no planned invasion, which is a unilateral statement of non-aggression. Echoing recognition that there is no military solution to this situation, he said various channels for dialogue can ease tensions. On non-intervention, he reiterated the importance of respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. As such, the Council must discharge its mandate and determine the existence of an act of aggression. States have the duty to settle disputes peacefully, he said, adding that diplomatic paths in this situation have not been exhausted. The Council must act as warranted by these circumstances, as it is doing with this meeting.
LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates) said the dispute in Europe requires countries in the region to engage in a serious dialogue based on the values of stability, coexistence and peace and through existing mechanisms. Welcoming the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, she emphasized the importance of maintaining security and stability and adhering to the Minsk agreements, which will contribute to reaching a comprehensive, regional understanding that maintains the security and stability of the concerned countries and addresses all their legitimate concerns. Escalation must be avoided, as it could have a negative impact on civilians and exacerbate the fragile humanitarian situation, she said, highlighting their needs. Respect for and adherence to international law is essential to ensure that the situation in Eastern Europe does not deteriorate further, she said, pointing to the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and good neighbourliness as indispensable elements in maintaining international peace and security. Constructive dialogue is critical to resolving differences, with the Council’s role being essential to provide a diplomatic platform that enables States to present and resolve their differences peacefully.
MONA JUUL (Norway), Council President for January, speaking in her national capacity, expressed strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, including the Crimean Peninsula and its territorial waters. Voicing deep concern over aggressive actions and threats against Ukraine by the Russian Federation, she said the Russian large-scale military build-up near Ukraine’s borders and in occupied Crimea is unprovoked and unjustified. On Moscow’s repeated accusation that NATO is increasing tensions, she underlined that the alliance is defensive and voluntary, and does not seek confrontation. However, it cannot and will not compromise on the principles on which security in Europe rests. Emphasizing that every country has the right to freely choose its security alignment, she called on the Russian Federation to de-escalate, to engage constructively in dialogue through the established international mechanisms and to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Ms. THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States), taking the floor for a second time, said she was disappointed at the statement made by her Russian Federation counterpart, clarifying that her country has no plan to weaken the Russian Federation. Rather, it welcomes a Russian Federation that is a responsible member of the international community. But Moscow’s action along its border with Ukraine is not responsible but provocative. In contrast, the actions and diplomacy of Washington, D.C., are not provocative. The United States commits itself to the path of diplomacy, she said. “Your actions speak for themselves,” she said, urging the Russian Federation to make the right choices.
Mr. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said he does not understand what threats and provocations the United States delegate are talking about. In her statement, she did not make any reference to the Minsk agreements. This is indicative of a completely different angle from which the United States is looking at the issue.
SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine) said that he wishes to ensure that his country’s voice is not lost in translation. There is no need for the Russian Federation to interpret the words of Ukrainian leaders in a foreign language. It is a duty for the Council to be fully informed in case of grave threats to international peace and security. What is going on along the border with Ukraine falls under this qualification. A serious talk in the Council is required more than ever to present facts, to listen to each other’s positions and concerns, as well as to outline further actions towards de-escalation. The fact is that about 112,000 Russian troops have been amassed around Ukraine’s borders and in Crimea, and that the Russian troops are also being deployed to Belarus for the planned joint drills. On top of that, on 26 January, the Russian fleet started another military drill in the Black Sea. “This reminds us of the ongoing heavy militarization of the temporarily occupied Crimea, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov by Russia,” he said, adding that Moscow poses a serious threat to Ukraine, all littoral States and the wider region. Significant reinforcement of combat capabilities of the Russian occupation forces in Donbas is another worrying trend.
On 22 December 2021, the Trilateral Contact Group reached another understanding on resuming the ceasefire regime, he said, noting, however, that shootings, shelling, sniper fire on Ukrainian positions, and systematic use of unmanned ariel attack vehicles against his country’s troops have not stopped. The current impasse within the Contact Group continues and the Normandy format decisions of December 2019 remain unimplemented. Over the past year and a half, the Russian side has made deliberate efforts to obstruct the activities of the Contact Group, and stubbornly denied being a party to the armed conflict that has been raging for eight years in the Donbas region of Ukraine. That country attempted to impose a so-called “direct dialogue” with its puppet occupation administrations, refusing to engage in substantive discussion on political settlement of the conflict. Ukraine is not going to launch a military offensive neither in Donbas nor in Crimea nor anywhere else. Ukraine sees no alternative to peaceful resolution of the ongoing conflict and restoration of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. “We are well aware of Russia’s history of ploys and provocations, and we will do everything possible to prevent another Mainila-type provocation by Russia”, he said. Ukraine has inherent sovereign right to choose its own security arrangements, including treaties of alliance, which cannot be questioned by the Russia Federation. That country must remember that Ukraine is ready to defend itself but will keep its diplomatic channels with Moscow open. His country’s President is ready to meet his Russian counterpart. Noting that the Council and the wider United Nations membership have received important information today, he urged the 15-member organ to take an informed decision to employ preventive diplomacy under Chapter VI of the Charter of the United Nations and investigate any situation which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute.
VALENTIN RYBAKOV (Belarus), stating his country’s position on the unacceptability of resolving any conflict by force, called for efforts to be made to settle the conflict and restore dialogue and mutual understanding, emphasizing that there is “no alternate” to the Minsk agreements as a path to a peaceful settlement of the crisis. Statements by the delegate of the United States represent yet another attempt to “artificially whip up tension, which heightens mistrust and does not help resolve the disagreement”, he said, adding that the expansion of military powers on the western and southern borders of Belarus has not just ceased but is also becoming threatening in nature. Moreover, despite calls by Belarus for cooperation on arms control, more pressure is being exerted upon the country, and its Western partners are not responding to its calls to return to negotiations. Urging Council members to read the Budapest Memorandum, which promises not to exert coercive measures on Belarus, he recalled that States had nonetheless imposed numerous packages on his country. Turning to the joint military exercises planned by his country and the Russian Federation in February, he underlined that these are being carried out to verify the responses of their forces, given the commitments of their alliance, to assess their preparedness to eradicate threats and respond to the humanitarian situation, including the ongoing migration crisis. He went on to note that such planned actions are purely defensive and pose no threat to European countries, or his country’s neighbours. Recalling President Alexander Lukashenko’s statement that war is only possible in two circumstances — in the event of an attack on Belarus or its ally, the Russian Federation — he said his country is continuing to contribute to efforts to resolve the crisis in Ukraine, which it hopes will be settled through dialogue and mutual respect.
KRZYSZTOF MARIA SZCZERSKI (Poland) welcomed the holding of today’s meeting, voicing growing alarm over the Russian Federation’s continuous large-scale military build-up on the border with Ukraine. “We cannot keep quiet because what is happening in our neighbourhood constitutes a serious threat to international peace and security, reaching far beyond our region and continent,” he said, adding that the situation follows a pattern of destabilizing actions by the Russian Federation in the region since at least 2008. Stressing Poland’s commitment to the fundamental principles of States’ sovereignty and territorial integrity, the inviolability of frontiers and the non-use or threat of force, he declared: “We know very well from our country’s history that a political order based on spheres of influence brings no positive results.” It is countries’ duty at the United Nations to condemn any threat of the use of force and utilize preventive diplomacy. As Chair of the OSCE, Poland is open to facilitating talks on European security and calls for constructive engagement under that format’s auspices.
RYTIS PAULAUSKAS (Lithuania), also speaking on behalf of Estonia and Latvia, expressed strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and voiced concern over the increased militarization of the Crimean territory occupied for several years by the Russian Federation. Reiterating his full support for the peaceful and sustainable resolution of the conflict in Ukraine, he condemned Moscow’s continued aggressive actions and called on it to immediately stop fuelling the conflict, and to withdraw troops and military materiel from the Ukrainian border. The Russian Federation continues to use the false narrative that it is forced to defend itself, when in fact the opposite is true; Moscow is the aggressor, strengthening its own security at the expense of nations. Reaffirming his country’s commitment to the core principles of the Charter of the United Nations — including the sovereign rights of nations — he stressed that spheres of influence have no place in the twenty-first century, and no country has veto rights over the legitimate sovereign actions of others.
* The 8959th Meeting was closed.