Global Community Will Be Judged by Way It Responds to ‘Horrors’ in Ukraine, Intergovernmental Organization Chair Tells Security Council
Delegate Calls Russian Federation ‘Serial Violator’ of Rules-Based World Order
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the global community have a moral obligation to support the people of Ukraine and not to stand silent in the face of the ongoing Russian aggression against them, the Head of that regional group told the Security Council today, warning that “we will be judged by the way we respond to these horrors”.
Zbigniew Rau, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland and the current Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE, made the remarks during the 15-member Council’s annual meeting on the OSCE’s work across Europe — which includes support to States in counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, good governance and human rights monitoring — and on its growing cooperation with the United Nations system.
“Such a close cooperation is even more needed today, when the basic principles of the United Nations Charter and international law are being flagrantly violated in the very heart of Europe,” he said, calling for every effort to stop the Russian aggression. Recalling that the “worst-case scenario became reality” on the morning of 24 February, when Moscow first launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, he said the invading forces soon began targeting civilian targets in an effort to break the will of the Ukrainian population, striking schools, hospitals and kindergartens with internationally banned weapons.
Responding to comments by some Russian officials that have accused him of lacking impartiality in the days and weeks since, he stressed: “Impartiality ends where blatant violation of international humanitarian law starts.” OSCE has an obligation to maintain its decency and integrity, and the international community cannot remain silent. Noting that the door to diplomacy is still open, he called on the Russian Federation to engage in dialogue to seek a peaceful solution to the crisis, stressing that the ongoing aggression poses a threat to the very existence of the rules-based international order.
Calling on all sides to abide by humanitarian law and refrain from activities directed against civilian populations and infrastructure, he said OSCE stands ready to cooperate with United Nations humanitarian agencies — including in support of effective evacuation routes out of Ukraine. In that context, he welcomed a 3 March decision by the OSCE Permanent Council to invoke its Moscow Mechanism, thereby creating a group of independent experts to investigate the reported violations of humanitarian law in the context of the hostilities in Ukraine.
Also briefing was Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, who spotlighted the growing partnership between the United Nations and OSCE since the establishment of the Framework for Cooperation and Coordination in 1993. Pursuant to Council resolution 2202 (2015) on the Minsk agreements, the United Nations has consistently supported the work of OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, as well as its role in the Trilateral Contact Group, which also includes Ukraine and the Russian Federation. She described the war in Ukraine as the “most severe test” OSCE has faced since its creation in 1975, adding that the Russian invasion has “shaken the foundations of the European security architecture to its core”.
Council members also took the floor, with many expressing strong support for OSCE’s role in Ukraine — including the 2014 deployment of its impartial Special Monitoring Mission, in response to a request by the Government of Ukraine, which has now been suspended due to the ongoing hostilities — and its engagement in the Trilateral Contact Group. While delegates expressed diverging views on the crisis itself, most roundly demanded an end to the fighting and emphasized the need to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.
The representative of the United Kingdom said the Council is meeting as one OSCE signatory is “tearing up the rulebook” and inflicting a war against another. “This war is a threat to us all,” she warned, pointing out that people across Africa, Asia and elsewhere rely on agricultural, energy and commodity supply chains that have already been disrupted by Moscow’s invasion. Noting that the Russian Federation now stands accused of the gravest war crimes, she welcomed action taken under the Moscow Mechanism to hold it to account.
Albania’s delegate echoed support for that mechanism, while also spotlighting the Council’s failure to prevent an unprovoked and unjustified act of aggression by a “serial violator” of the rules and norms of the international order. Voicing his hope that the effects of unprecedented sanctions imposed against the Russian Federation will wake its citizens up “to see reality […] and not the distorted mirror of propaganda” presented by the State, he emphasized that the international community must refuse “a world according to Russia” and instead preserve the rules-based order.
The representative of India said the manifold challenges facing OSCE include ethnic tensions, violent separatism within States and the proliferation of weapons, terrorism and cyberattacks. Reiterating the importance of global counter-terrorism efforts, also noted its important role in facilitating the implementation of the package of measures across both sides of the contact line in eastern Ukraine. India remains in close touch with both Moscow and Kyiv, he said, adding that it supports the OSCE Minsk Group’s continued efforts for a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
China’s delegate, expressing his country’s strong support for strong relationships between the United Nations and such regional organizations as OSCE, said a solution to the crisis in Ukraine must take the security concerns of all interested countries seriously. A balanced, effective and sustainable European security architecture is urgently needed. Stressing that the world does not need a new cold war, he said the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States must be respected and the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations observed.
The representative of the Russian Federation expressed regret that United Nations officials have veered away from impartiality on the situation in Ukraine, while pointing out that OSCE has long turned a blind eye to instances of neo-Nazism, shelling and other aggressions against Russian-speaking populations in the Donbas region. Stressing that OSCE has a responsibility to employ “status-neutral approaches” and embrace the role of an honest broker in its attempts to facilitate dialogue, he said the Polish chairmanship has failed in such a role. Meanwhile, Western colleagues continue to prioritize the security of some countries over that of others and the Kyiv authorities are arming gangs who roam the streets of Ukrainian cities, firing upon civilians.
Ukraine’s representative, sounding alarm over continued war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed in his country by Russian troops, welcomed the invocation of the Moscow Mechanism in order to explore such violations. Noting that the Russian Federation is intensifying its propaganda and disinformation campaign, he said the OSCE should pay close attention to Moscow’s false narratives. “What is happening now is not only about Ukraine’s survival […] it is about the survival of both the United Nations and the OSCE,” he said, urging the latter to play a special role in supporting a post-Putin Russian Federation on the path back to the democratic family of nations.
Also speaking were the representatives of Norway, Ghana, France, Brazil, United States, Mexico, Kenya, Gabon, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates.
The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 12:41 p.m.
ZBIGNIEW RAU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland, speaking in his capacity as Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Chairman-in-Office, said it stands ready to continue to cooperate with the United Nations, in line with Chapter VIII of the Charter. “Such a close cooperation is even more needed today, when the basic principles of the United Nations Charter and international law are being flagrantly violated in the very heart of Europe,” he said, calling for every effort to be made to stop the Russian aggression against Ukraine. Recalling that he took up his post at the OSCE’s helm against the backdrop of growing tensions stemming from Moscow’s new, unilateral demands for security guarantees — which were fundamentally flawed — he declared: “The transatlantic community is neither enemy nor threat to Russia or its people.”
At that time, he said, OSCE was ready to consider in good faith new avenues of cooperation provided that they contributed to stability and security in the OSCE area. However, the Russian Federation was “just buying time” as it built up troops along Ukraine’s borders, casting doubt on its real intentions. “On the morning of 24 February, the worst-case scenario became reality,” he said, noting that the conviction that war in Europe “belonged to the past” was shattered. The invading Russian force began targeting civilian targets in an effort to break the will of the population, striking schools, hospitals and kindergartens with internationally banned weapons. Describing those attacks as deplorable and amounting to State terrorism, he emphasized that the international community has instruments and means to hold accountable those that commit and are complicit in war crimes.
In the days and weeks since, he said, some Russian officials have accused him of lacking impartiality. To that, he responded: “Impartiality ends where blatant violation of international humanitarian law starts.” Emphasizing the OSCE’s obligation to maintain its decency and integrity, he added: “The perpetrators will be judged by their deeds, but we will be judged by the way we respond to these horrors.” The international community cannot remain silent. Noting that the door to diplomacy is still open, he called on the Russian Federation to engage in dialogue to seek a peaceful solution to the crisis, stressing that the ongoing aggression also poses a threat to OSCE’s very existence and to that of the rules-based international order. Indeed, he asked: “How effective can we be if one of the major stakeholders has repeatedly justified the use of force to win territorial and political concessions?”
While OSCE is not a treaty-based organization, he emphasized that it is deeply embedded in the notion of multilateral negotiations for security. “I still believe that it is the right platform for dialogue and the peaceful resolution of conflict,” he said, noting that its presence plays a stabilizing role in such regions as the Western Balkans and Central Asia. Outlining his plans to visit those regions as well as to the Republic of Moldova and the South Caucasus, he nevertheless warned that OSCE’s future depends on how effective it can be in reviving cooperation among all participating States.
Indeed, he said, the present non-compliance is forcing OSCE to put on hold or delay some of its critical day-to-day operations. Supported by the overwhelming majority of OSCE States, the new Renewed European Security Dialogue — initiated in response to growing tensions — was meant to develop new measures of trust, transparency and confidence. “Unfortunately, despite initial interest, the Russian side has chosen the most destructive path of confronting its concerns, fears and misgivings,” he said.
He noted that the changing situation on the ground is likely to determine the scope and character of the future engagement of the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, which has been active for eight years. “The recent events in Ukraine have once again shone a spotlight on the situation of civilian population in conflict-affected areas,” he added, calling on all sides of military conflicts to abide by humanitarian law and refrain from activities directed against civilian population and infrastructure.
He said OSCE stands ready to cooperate closely with United Nations humanitarian agencies to facilitate and provide the necessary assistance, which must include the creation of effective evacuation routes for the civilian population. Against that backdrop, he welcomed the 3 March decision of the Permanent Council to invoke the Moscow Mechanism to create a group of independent experts to investigate the reported violation of humanitarian law in the context of the hostilities in Ukraine.
ROSEMARY DICARLO, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said the tragic conflict in Ukraine vividly illustrates the importance of mechanisms to maintain and strengthen European and international peace and security. Since the United Nations and OSCE established the Framework for Cooperation and Coordination in 1993, their partnership has grown in scope and substance to help address acute crises and find solutions to common peace and security challenges. Regarding Ukraine, and pursuant to Security Council resolution 2202 (2015) on the Minsk agreements, she said the United Nations has consistently supported the work of OSCE, especially the Special Monitoring Mission and the OSCE-led Trilateral Contact Group, while carrying out the United Nations humanitarian and human rights mandates on the ground.
“The war in Ukraine is the most severe test the OSCE and related regional frameworks have faced since their creation. The Russian invasion has shaken the foundations of the European security architecture to its core,” she continued. Noting that Ukraine’s cities are under unrelenting shelling and bombardment, with many civilians killed daily, she stressed that indiscriminate attacks, including those using cluster munitions, which are of a nature to strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction, are prohibited under international humanitarian law. Expressing deep concern about reports that Ukrainian municipal officials in Russian-controlled parts of the country have been abducted, she also noted reports of civilians, including journalists, being targeted, allegedly by Russian forces.
Amid those dire conditions, the United Nations continues to scale up not only its humanitarian support to the people of Ukraine, but also its engagement with key partners like OSCE in support of an immediate ceasefire and a lasting diplomatic solution, she continued. Recalling the Secretary-General’s address to the Council in 2017 on the topic of “Conflicts in Europe”, she said he had cautioned that as serious conflicts persisted there, new threats and risks made it even more pressing for multilateral institutions and regional organizations to address dangerous challenges to the international order. His warnings then were informed in large part by the crises in Georgia in 2008 and in Ukraine in 2014, which demonstrated how real the risks of new outbreaks of conflict were, she added.
Expressing concern about the dismantling of longstanding confidence-building measures, arms control treaties and other frameworks that were designed and agreed to sustain regional security, she noted that OSCE-led processes supported by the international community are now openly questioned by parties involved in them. It is more important than ever for all parties to recommit to the principles of the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris and other landmark agreements that form the bedrock of European security architecture. Affirming the United Nations support of all efforts to restore mutual trust and respect among regional stakeholders, she reminded the Council that all have a stake in the outcome. “The challenges we face today, and those potentially ahead, demand that we work even more closely together,” she concluded.
MONA JUUL (Norway) said that, with an inclusive mandate and participation, OSCE has a rich toolbox for increasing transparency, building trust and reducing tensions. Commending its work in Ukraine, she said good use should be made of its Special Monitoring Mission’s national staff on the ground, as well as its fleet of vehicles, premises and its long experience as an intermediary facilitating localized ceasefires. OSCE can also provide competence on border management and human trafficking. Condemning the Russian Federation’s illegal and unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine, which is a serious violation of international law and Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, she stressed that Moscow’s warfare in urban and populated areas and the use of heavy explosive weapons is causing terrible, long-term harm to civilians. Humanitarian actors in Ukraine must be allowed to stay and deliver, she said, also voicing concern about the increasing strain on neighbouring countries as people flee the fighting.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana) noted OSCE’s commitment to finding peaceful solutions to the situations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as in the evolving situation in Ukraine. He also praised its work to address such critical issues as terrorism, antisemitism and violations of human rights on the continent. Ensuring security in Europe now requires States to renew their commitment to uphold the long-established principles of non-aggression, sovereignty and territorial integrity, upon which global aspirations for peace and development can be built. Warning against any attempts to rewrite those principles, he said OSCE’s role as an important platform for dialogue on security cooperation in Europe must be upheld and maintained. Against the current backdrop of violence, he also voiced concern over the cascading humanitarian, security and refugee crisis, calling for renewed dialogue efforts among the parties.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) said the Council is meeting as one OSCE signatory is “tearing up the rulebook” and inflicting a war against another. “President [Vladimir] Putin’s war violates fundamental principles of the United Nations and the OSCE,” she said, adding: “This war is a threat to us all.” Indeed, millions of people across Africa, Asia and elsewhere rely on agricultural, energy and commodity supply chains that have already been disrupted by Moscow’s invasion. Recalling that OSCE has worked for years to support the implementation of the Minsk agreements, she noted that the Russian Federation now stands accused of the gravest war crimes and welcomed action taken under the Moscow Mechanism to hold it to account. The United Kingdom continues to support the vital roles of OSCE field missions in Central Asia and elsewhere on the continent — including its human rights instruments — as well as its efforts to facilitate peaceful solutions to such conflicts as that in Nagorno-Karabakh.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) welcomed the OSCE briefing at a time when Europe’s security faces an extremely serious threat. In February, the OSCE Chairman-in-Office proposed a renewed dialogue on European security in order to respond in particular to the security concerns expressed by the Russian Federation in recent months. Noting that France supported those efforts, he said Moscow has since flagrantly violated the Charter of the United Nations, the founding texts of OSCE, the Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris. “It threatens multilateralism and international law, as well as the institutions that guarantee them,” notably both OSCE and the United Nations, and it undermines the interests of all States who participate in those organizations. Calling for an immediate end to the hostilities and the full withdrawal of Russian Federation troops, he also voiced France’s support for the OSCE human dimension institutions and instruments, including the Moscow Mechanism launched on 3 March and the fact-finding mechanism set up by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. “We are determined not to allow Russia to drag multilateral collective security organizations down with it,” he stressed.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said the overarching divergence between the Russian Federation and the existing European security order based on international law and OSCE principles is a structural one. Noting the Council’s failure to prevent an unprovoked and unjustified act of aggression by a “serial violator” of the rules and norms of the international order, he stressed that the aggressor must pay for crimes committed. He expressed Albania’s support for the initiative to invoke the OSCE Moscow Mechanism to establish facts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, adding that its findings together with those of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry should be presented to relevant accountability mechanisms, as well as national, regional or international courts or tribunals. Stressing that the Russian Federation’s actions should not go unchecked or unpunished, he expressed hope that the effects of unprecedented sanctions will wake up Russian citizens “to see reality ...and not the distorted mirror of propaganda.” The international community must refuse ‘a world according to Russia’, he said, urging the preservation and reinforcement of a rules-based order.
JOÃO GENÉSIO DE ALMEIDA FILHO (Brazil), noting the conflict in Ukraine and its toll on human suffering, said the cessation of hostilities must be the international community’s most pressing objective, adding that all parties must fully respect international humanitarian law and adopt measures to protect civilians. He called for continued efforts to agree on humanitarian mechanisms that ensure the safe passage of civilians, as well as unhindered access of humanitarian personnel. Noting that the present conflict will also have a significant impact on commodities and energy prices, he pointed out that such effects could be further worsened by the application of unilateral sanctions. Stressing that there is no alternative to diplomatic talks, he urged all parties to engage in dialogue to find ways for a lasting peace in Ukraine and in the wider region. He expressed hope that the expertise of OSCE may be valuable in monitoring a ceasefire that will encompass a comprehensive disengagement of troops and military equipment on the ground. Turning to the ongoing crisis in Georgia, as well as the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, he noted that the dialogue process, co-chaired by the OSCE, United Nations and European Union, is an important example of United Nations-OSCE cooperation in conflict resolution. Recognizing OSCE’s work to advance the women, peace and security agenda, he said the issues of impunity for sexual and gender-based violence must be tackled. “The maintenance of peace and security in Europe is under unprecedented challenge. Close cooperation between the United Nations and the OSCE is more needed than ever,” he concluded.
RICHARD M. MILLS, JR. (United States), expressing outrage over the death of Brent Renaud who was killed by Russian Federation forces while covering refugees leaving a checkpoint, said his death illustrates Moscow’s willingness to silence narratives that challenge its propaganda and underscores the importance of ensuring the safety of journalists. Noting its horrific devastation unleashed against another Member State, he called on the Russian Federation to immediately cease all hostilities, withdraw its forces from Ukraine and take the path of diplomacy. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is an unprecedented challenge — a challenge to the post-Second World War European security order and to cooperation between Member States. In that regard, cooperation between the United Nations and OSCE remains as essential as ever. Unfortunately, the Russian Federation and Belarus continue to violate the foundational principles of the Charter and the Helsinki Final Act. The Russian Federation, with the support of Belarus, has shown utter contempt for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other States, as well as for the human rights and freedoms of its own people. Moreover, the Russian Federation has spread disinformation, distracted the Council from its aggression, and forced domestic and foreign media outlets to suspend operations in the country or to close permanently. Expressing commitment to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, he said that despite Moscow’s efforts to impede its operations, its impartial reporting has proved invaluable to the international community’s understanding of the security situation on the ground. Urging the Council to not forget OSCE’s other important priorities, he welcomed OSCE’s continuing commitment to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Georgia and expressed regret that the Russian Federation has not fulfilled its obligations and its commitments under the 2008 ceasefire agreement. Expressing appreciation for the long-standing partnership between the United Nations and OSCE, he urged both organizations, in the face of Russian aggression, to continue to work together to advance peace, security, development and human rights.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico), welcoming OSCE’s people-centred focus, advocated for efforts that prioritize the most vulnerable in any conflict. Voicing concern that, two weeks into the fighting, the Council is still unable to issue any statement condemning the Russian aggression against Ukraine, he said protecting the civilian population is the international community’s moral imperative. That was the purpose of the humanitarian text put forward on the Ukraine situation, which was recently submitted by Mexico and France. Expressing regret that some activities of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine have been suspended “just at the moment when information and true reports are most needed”, he nevertheless welcomed its redeployment to support humanitarian efforts and stressed the need for full access to populations in need. OSCE should also resume its functions in the context of the Trilateral Contact Group, as more dialogue is urgently needed. Outlining OSCE’s work in various conflicts in Europe, he underscored the decisive role played by regional and subregional organizations in supporting the Council’s work and urged the latter’s members to step up with cooperation with such bodies.
MICHAEL KAPKIAI KIBOINO (Kenya) said the present, grotesque armed conflict taking place in Ukraine is “reminiscent of age-old European wars”. Against that backdrop, it has become imperative to redesign a security architecture for Europe that is firmly grounded on such fundamental principles as respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Member States; sovereign equality between States; respect for agreements and the pacific settlement of disputes. Agreeing that OSCE offers a good platform for the region to discuss every aspect related to peace and security, he commended the organization for its preventive diplomacy efforts and its commitment to multilateralism and praised its work executing the mandate endorsed by the Council in resolution 2202 (2015) relating to the Minsk agreements package. Calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities on humanitarian ground, he also turned to other issues of concern in Europe, urging the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to work together to ensure full compliance with the General Framework Agreement for Peace.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) noted that the “conflict prevention potential” of OSCE is being questioned given the rise of nationalism in Europe, secessionist tensions in South-East Europe, the multiple crises in Central Asia, and the numerous security threats arising from terrorism. Moreover, the numerous outbreaks of tension resulting from the splitting apart of former blocs threaten to erode numerous regions of the world and in particular continental Europe, he said. The latest events, marked by the war in Ukraine, as well as the situation in the Karabakh region, mean OSCE must question its ability to play its role as a bridge between the East and the West in its territorial competence and in its capacity to set in motion its conflict prevention mechanisms to prevent and resolve all armed conflict in its sphere of influence. Noting that Gabon has not experienced war nor taken part in an armed conflict, he said his country has always preferred dialogue over breaches and diplomatic solutions over the use of force. He called on members of the Council and the entire international community to renew their commitment to ensuring international peace and security.
ZHANG JUN (China) said his country has always supported United Nations efforts to develop partnerships with regional organizations, including OSCE, to address challenges in peace and security. Noting the importance of enhancing mutual trust, he said differences among States in national interests, social systems and ideologies should not become an obstacle to dialogue or be a reason for confrontation. The world is indivisible, security is indivisible, he said, adding that that principle must be upheld and implemented under the current circumstances. The final solution to the crisis in Ukraine is to respect the reasonable security concerns of all States and form a balanced, effective and sustainable European security architecture. Stressing that the world does not need a new cold war, he said all countries must strengthen unity and work together for a shared future for mankind. Moreover, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States must be respected, and the purposes and principles of the Charter observed. All efforts towards the peaceful settlement of crises must be supported, he said, adding that China, in that regard, will strengthen communication and coordination with all parties concerned and play a constructive role in promoting peace through negotiation. Expressing concern about developments in Ukraine, he said the international community must help sustain positive momentum and support the negotiations between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, and to create necessary conditions to that end.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) described OSCE as an inclusive forum centred around a unique concept of comprehensive security, which has served Europe well for almost 50 years. Condemning the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified attacks on Ukraine — a sovereign and independent country — she called on Moscow to cease hostilities, unconditionally withdraw its troops and refrain from further threats or the use of force of any kind against Ukraine or any other OSCE-participating State. As OSCE is a forum for dialogue, she voiced support for the Renewed European Security Dialogue initiated by the Chairman-in-Office, as well as for the important work of the Special Monitoring Mission. She also expressed support for other OSCE activities, including efforts to achieve a negotiated settlement of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, particularly on the long-term status of Nagorno-Karabakh, and in Georgia and the Republic of Moldova. Citing OSCE’s role in holding all participating States accountable to the organization’s principles and commitments, she also reaffirmed her support for its autonomous institutions, in particular the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
RAVINDRA RAGUTTAHALLI (India) noted that the challenges confronting the OSCE community include threats to sovereignty, peace and security. These threats manifest themselves in ethnic tensions and violent separatism within States, as well as through the proliferation of weapons, terrorism and cyberattacks. Reiterating the importance of global counter-terrorism efforts, he stressed that OSCE was among the first regional organizations to strongly condemn the 2001 terrorist attack on India’s Parliament, calling for continued attention on cross-border terrorist acts and other emerging threats. Acknowledging the important role of OSCE in facilitating the implementation of the package of measures across both sides of the contact line in eastern Ukraine, he pointed out that recent developments in Ukraine and consequent deterioration of the security situation have halted the functioning of the Special Monitoring Mission. He said that up until now, more than 22,500 Indian nationals have returned home safely from Ukraine. India has been in touch with Moscow and Kyiv, he said, also noting that it supports the OSCE Minsk Group’s continued efforts for a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) noted with surprise that Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo’s assessment of the situation in Ukraine, both today and last week, “went way beyond the remit of impartiality” that is required of an international civil servant. In particular, her unfounded references to cluster bombs raised doubts as to whether she is indeed a senior United Nations staffer, or a representative of a Member State. Indeed, no mediation can be discussed “when you have obviously picked a side in this conflict”, he said, noting that Ms. DiCarlo failed to mention a recent cluster bomb strike by Ukrainian armed forces in Donetsk, which killed 20 people. Meanwhile, Council members and OSCE itself continue to turn a blind eye to the continued shelling and attacks of people in Donbas, which has gone on for years.
Regarding the national of the United States who was killed in Irpin, Ukraine, in recent days, he clarified that Brent Renaud was not a journalist, but a filmmaker. Moreover, Irpin is fully under the control of Ukrainian forces, and it was those forces who opened fire on his vehicle. Rejecting the unprofessional, hysterical and unacceptable tone which has been adopted in the Council, he recalled that the OSCE Chairman-in-Office visited Moscow on 15 February, at which time the Russian Federation expressed support for certain compromises. However, it maintained that OSCE must employ “status-neutral approaches” and embrace the role of an honest broker. Instead, the Polish chairmanship failed in such a role and instead initiated actions against a single signatory State.
Indeed, he continued, it is not true that Moscow has refused dialogue, but only that it requires responses from the United States and individual OSCE members for such dialogue to be successful. Western colleagues continue to prioritize the security of some countries over that of others. Blaming OSCE and its current chairmanship for the current crisis, he said it prevented Ukraine from implementing the Minsk agreements — especially provisions on Donetsk and Luhansk — and ignored incidents of nationalism, neo-Nazism and aggression against Russian-speaking populations. A massive information campaign is now ongoing against the Russian Federation, with the current crisis being falsely portrayed as a result of the special operation in Ukraine. Decrying fake images of attacks against civilians as a provocation against his country, he said Ukrainian forces continue to hide behind women and children while Kyiv distributes firearms “to God knows who” and rampaging gangs of bandits fire upon civilians. He also cited instances of the use of phosphorous bombs by Ukrainian forces, warning of the further danger posed by the use of biological or chemical weapons, which will be blamed on Moscow. “If […] this provocation actually takes place, don’t say we didn’t warn you,” he said.
MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates), President of the Security Council, speaking in his national capacity, said the international community could benefit from OSCE’s expertise and mediation efforts to find a solution to the conflict in Ukraine. The organization’s role in dealing with the repercussions of the conflict is important not only on the regional level, but also on the international level, he said, pointing out that the continuation and worsening of the crisis threaten food security. Given that Ukraine is one of the five largest exporters of wheat in the world and an important source of wheat for the World Food Programme (WFP), the situation in the country will particularly affect developing countries that depend on wheat imports. OSCE member States also have other security and political concerns, including the conflict in Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, tensions in the Balkans, as well as the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. Resolving those tensions requires a balanced diplomacy that champions dialogue and aims to address existing differences, he said. In that regard, his country relies on the OSCE’s mediation role as well as the good offices of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office to find diplomatic solutions to the region’s crises, based on the principles of sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of States, and maintaining regional security and stability.
Mr. RAU, taking the floor again in response to members’ comments, said the international community stands at a critical juncture. In carrying out his tasks as Chairman-in-Office, he will continue to call upon all participating States to abide by their joint commitments, and he will not shy away from facilitating dialogue to resolve ongoing regional and frozen conflicts across the region. Noting that such efforts will be the focus of his upcoming trips to the Republic of Moldova, the South Caucasus, the Western Balkans and Central Asia, he noted that the ongoing non-compliance by one OSCE participating State might complicate those efforts. He went on to express unwavering support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, and for efforts to keep the conflict in Abkhazia and South Ossetia high on OSCE’s list of priorities. He will also increase OSCE’s involvement in resolving the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, he said, urging both sides to engage in dialogue leading to stability and prosperity in the region.
SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine), noting the Russian Federation’s flagrant violation of United Nations and OSCE principles, commended the Chairman-in-Office for his strong commitment to pursuing an end to the war on Ukraine. Stressing that Russian Federation troops continue to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine, he called on the Security Council and the OSCE Chair to facilitate the release of Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov, who was detained by Russian soldiers on 11 March and is reportedly tortured due to his refusal to collaborate with the aggressor. Unfortunately, he said the Russian occupants abducted another elected official, Dniprorudne Mayor Yevhen Matveyev, on 13 March.
Nonetheless, he said residents of Kherson, Berdyansk, Melitopol, Energodar and other cities and towns in occupation have no fear to take to the streets to say to the occupants: “Go away, we are Ukraine.” Describing Russian Federation attacks in various parts of his country, he stressed that countering Russian aggression must be a centrepiece of OSCE efforts to restore security in Europe. He welcomed the invocation of the Moscow Mechanism, which is important to register all war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Russian Federation in its war against Ukraine. Moreover, there is a need to explore all OSCE tools to document Russian Federation crimes and ensure public and timely reaction by the Chairman-in-Office, special representatives and OSCE autonomous institutions. Noting that the Russian Federation is intensifying its propaganda and disinformation campaign, he said the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media must pay close attention to Moscow’s false narratives. “What is happening now is not only about Ukraine’s survival. Unlike Putin and his henchmen, Ukraine will survive the Russian invasion. It is about the survival of both the United Nations and the OSCE. And it is about de-Putinization of Russia and its gradual returning to the tenets of international law in the post-Putin era,” he said.
The OSCE should play a special role in preparing to support a post-Putin Russian Federation in its future path back to the family of democratic nations, he said, calling upon the Chairman-in-Office and the OSCE autonomous institutions to start considering the modalities of work in that regard.