8970th U.N. Security Council Meeting on Ukraine, February 21, 2022.
The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting at the request of Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.
Vasily Nebenzya, Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations : I thank the representative of China.
I shall now make a statement in my capacity as the representative of the Russian Federation.
We have just now heard a number of highly emotional statements, categorical assessments and far-reaching conclusions related to the signing today by Russia’s President of decrees recognizing People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. I will leave the verbal assaults unanswered. Now, it is important to focus on how to avoid war and force Ukraine to stop the shelling and provocations against Donetsk and Luhansk.
From the statements of a number of our colleagues, one may get the impression that Russia’s recognition of the LDR and DPR took place suddenly, for no reason at all. Of course, that is not the case. It should be remembered that the DPR and LPR declared their independence from Ukraine back in 2014. We only recognize them now, despite the high level of support for doing so both in the Republics themselves and in Russian society from the very beginning.
At the time, the hope was that the Ukrainian regime would think again and stop talking to their own citizens in the East in the language of cannons, shootings, shelling and threats. Time and again, we firmly asked Kiev to listen to the aspirations of the people living in Donbass and the Russian-speaking residents of the country, to respect their legitimate desire to use their mother tongue and teach their children in that language, and honor the memories of those who liberated the land from fascists rather than those who fought on the side of fascists and had a hand in the killing of hundreds of thousands of people during the Second World War.
After the Ukrainian military adventures bumped into the determination of the people of Donetsk and Lugansk to defend their lands, the Minsk agreements were signed and a package of measures was adopted with the aim of implementing it. There was once again hope for peace and that the Maidan authorities would be sensible, having exhausted the desire to submerge Donetsk and Luhansk in blood. There was a particularly great amount of hope invested in the election in 2019 of a new President of Ukraine. He promised at long last to establish peace in Donbass.
However, those who hoped that the Ukrainian authorities would take a peaceful stance were unfortunately mistaken. Kiev very quickly returned to its bellicose rhetoric and continued the shelling of civilians, and also did everything it could to sabotage and ultimately destroy the Minsk Agreements. Most importantly, there was the flat refusal of Kiev to speak directly with the representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk, despite the fact that this requirement is a central, structural element of the package of measures.
Unambiguous confirmation of an unwillingness to engage in that dialogue is something we have heard repeatedly from Ukrainian leaders in the last few days, including from the permanent representative of Ukraine during the Security Council meeting that we convened on the 17th of February to discuss the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. After that, it became clear once and for all that Ukraine did not intend to implement the Minsk Agreements.
I would like to recall and remind my colleagues on the Security Council that in all other conflicts, be it Libya, Syria or Yemen, we all demand and call for direct dialogue between the parties to the conflict. It is only Ukraine that is for some reason an exception to this rule.
From some statements today, one may understand that a number of our colleagues are ready to bury the Minsk Agreements. However, I would like to remind you that when the Minsk Agreements were concluded, the LPR and DPR had already declared their independence. The fact that Russia today recognizes that, in no way changes the makeup of the parties to the Minsk Agreements, because Russia is not a party to the Minsk Agreements. We have repeatedly declared this and in so doing, in this regard, nothing has changed.
It is another matter that the Minsk Agreements, the provisions of which were supposed to be implemented way back in 2015, have long been openly sabotaged by Ukraine with the backing of our Western colleagues. Today, we can see many colleagues want to sign up for the idea that the Minsk Agreements are dead, but that is not the case. 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 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 Agreements are not being implemented by Russia, which as we have repeatedly underscored, is not even a party to the Minsk Agreements.
Moreover, for the last few weeks, while they have been whipping up an unfounded panic around the alledgedly impending Russian invasion of Ukraine, our western colleagues have been unashamedly cramming weapons into the country, sending instructors there, essentially nudging the Ukrainians who have concentrated a 120,000 strong military contingent along the contact line towards an armed provocation against Donbass.
The joint efforts of the West and Ukraine have inflated an air bubble that simply has to burst. In the past week, there has been a sharp increase in the intensity of Ukrainian shelling of residential areas of LPR and DPR. 1600 shells have been shot, civilians have been killed. The territory of the Republics has been penetrated by subversive groups who have carried out or tried to carry out sabotage of critical infrastructure.
As I already said, there are casualties among the civilian population. The LPR and DPR have declared general mobilization. It is Russia and not Ukraine that refugees have flooded to. Over the last few days, the number of evacuated women, old people and children have reached around sixty thousand people. Russia is hosting them and providing conditions for them to be housed and supported. There also was shelling of some towns and villages on Russian territory, near the border zone. So it has become clear that Donbass is on the brink of a new Ukrainian military adventure, as was already the case in 2014 and 2015. We cannot allow that.
That is why the Russian President heeded the opinion of parlementarians and members of the Russian Security Council, and you know the rest. A detailed statement from our Head of State about the reasons of this decision that has been taken was broadcast in detail by the world leading media. Today, it is true we have an open distortion of what the President was talking about in his statement, about history and the genesis of the situation, about the fact that he allegedly said he wants to reconstruct the Russian Empire.
I would like to call upon our Western colleagues to think twice, to set emotions aside and not make the situation worse. 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 signed today and on the basis of the requests from the Republics, peacekeeping functions on their territories will be carried out by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
In conclusion, I would like to note that in today’s statements, most of you did not find any place for the more than 4 million residents of Donbass. It is as if you have been canceling out their fate from 2014, calling them pro-Russian separatists. At the same time, you decided that the illegal coup in 2014 [was legitimate], and you wanted to discuss with the new authorities how their rights would be upheld. That was all they wanted to do.
In the last few days, with the sharp intensification in military activities of the Ukrainian army along the contact line, the lives of hundreds of thousands of women, children and elderly persons have once again, as in 2014 and 2015, ended up under real threat, and the main aim of our decision was to protect and preserve those people. That is more important than all of your threats.
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