Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia raising a point of order during UNSC briefing on the situation in Ukraine
Again, we would like to put on record our position regarding another attempt of our Western colleagues to “push through” the online participation of president Zelensky of Ukraine in this meeting.
We repeatedly stressed that we are not opposed to the participation of President Zelensky or his representative per se. But they must be physically present in this room. Apart from the fact that this is prescribed by the rules of procedure which have regulated the work of this body for more than 75 years, it is also an issue of respect to the Council. Security Council must not turn into a platform for political shows or a movie theatre. With such issues, any forbearance seriously damages the authority of the Council.
Speaking about shows, this is what the Ukrainian delegation organized in the General Assembly during the High Level Week. I mean the fact that people were taken to the GA Hall purposefully – in order to applaud upon hearing the pre-recorded address by the Ukrainian president. This reaction was filmed on mobile devices and then disseminated via social media as a proof of alleged support of GA members. Colleagues, please do not think no one noticed that. Many delegations expressed their perplexity when they saw those alleged supporters enter and then exit the GA Hall in groups upon completing their mission while accompanied by Western delegates.
It is deplorable that such clumsy and primitive PR tricks depreciate the role of the Security Council and the United Nations at large, which were designed to serve as respectful platforms for dialogue rather than political shows. Again, this illustrates the real attitude of Western delegations to the United Nations. You do not care for safeguarding its fundamental concepts, its authority, and the way it is perceived by the international community. In your Russophobic hysteria, you are ready to forsake it all.
Let me underscore again that we stand for sovereign equality of states and are strongly opposed to double standards which discriminate UN member states. Many of the UN members experience complicated domestic situations, but no concessions are made for their leaders. By the same token, the lion’s share of international humanitarian assistance is Ukraine-oriented. Western sponsors seem to have forgotten about the people in need who live in other parts of the globe. They would rather spend billions of USD on arms deliveries to Kiev. Hence Europe’s double standards with regard to migrants. Refugees from Ukraine get the “green light” on all European borders, while refugees from Africa, the Middle East, and other regions are fenced off.
We call on all UN member states to adopt a principled position on that matter.
Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing on Ukraine
As you know, referenda on accession to Russia have been held in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions. The official results will be announced in the next few days. This is the long-awaited development for the people of Donbas. It should bring peace to their lands, which they have not seen for eight years. For all that time the population of those areas has lived in constant fear for their lives. Throughout those years, bombardments of the DPR and LPR were killing about ten people a week, including children. As for the residents of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, they will finally be able to know for sure that no one is going to deprive them of their right to speak Russian and have their children educated in the Russian language. They will know for sure that on the Victory Day, which is a sacred holiday to us all, they will be able to pay tribute to those who fought against Nazis to liberate their lands rather than those who collaborated with them and committed heinous crimes.
Starting from 2014, Kiev deliberately adopted a course towards physical extermination of the “unwanted” people of DPR and LPR, by the way Ukrainian nationals, with support of the European Union and the United States. They did not stir a finger to make the Kiev authorities observe the Minsk Agreements, that guaranteed safety of the people of the Donbas republics, and their dignified future within Ukraine. Let me remind that the Minsk Agreements envisaged a ceasefire, a direct dialogue of Kiev with Donbas, granting a special status to Donbas by means of adopting a new constitution. The authorities in Kiev cynically infringed all those agreements, and violated UNSC resolution 2202. Western delegations not only failed to condemn it. On the contrary, they secretly supported that.
Had it not been for this criminal connivance and hypocrisy, had the West made it protégés in Kiev observe basic human rights, respect its people and their right to life, there would not have been any need for our special military operation.
Ukrainian authorities openly proclaimed the Russian and Russian-speaking residents of those territories to be “inhumans”, “species”. In one of his interviews in August 2021, Vladimir Zelensky advised all those who consider themselves Russians and love the Russian language to “leave Ukraine for Russia” for the benefit of their children. Now the people living in Donbas, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions are following his cynical recommendation. They are turning back home, and with them they are taking the lands where their ancestors lived for centuries.
What also played a role is the fact that we were able to save the people of Crimea, who chose to return to Russia in 2014, from the tragic Donbas scenario. Back then, we heard just the same accusations of aggression and annexation. Over those 8 years, the life in Crimea has changed for the better. People no longer fear for their lives. Economy is thriving, infrastructure is developing. For all those years, we have been investing in the development of this region, and we will do the same with Donbas and other territories that Kiev has and is trying to ruin.
I know that our former Western partners will not listen to us. Or rather they will pretend to have not heard us. But I will say that the referenda were held in the conditions of exceptional transparency, with all electoral norms being fully observed. This is a firm fact, no matter how hard Kiev and its Western sponsors try to assert the opposite. More than 100 independent observers from 40 states monitored the vote. They eagerly share their feedback in media and social networks. In particular, they say they were surprised to see how enthusiastic the people in DPR, LPR, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions were about the referenda, and for how long they had waited for it. Unfortunately, you will not be able to hear those assessments in the coverage of Western media. Neither will you see footage of interviews with residents of those regions. Western states said from the very start that they would not recognize the results of those referenda. They mobilized all their propaganda machinery to besmirch those votes. We are not surprised by the propagandist fakes that people allegedly were forced to vote, that they have been tortured for days in order to make them vote in favor of accession to Russia. Foreign Minister of Germany A.Baerbock said that they are “shot and raped and then made to check the box on the ballot sheet while soldiers with Kalashnikovs stand next to them”. Apparently, they vote after they have been “shot and raped”. Those soldiers whom you saw on TV were protecting the participants of the referenda from likely provocations on the Ukrainian side.
Apart from its propaganda, Ukrainian armed forces employed full capacity of its or rather Western military machine, having intensified artillery bombardments of the cities where the referenda were held in order to sew panic among the people in a futile attempt to disrupt the voting.
The hysteria that Western delegations are spreading, i.a. today in the Security Council, proves that direct expression of will by the people has long ceased to be a criterion of a democratic choice. Self-determination is considered a democratic choice only if the West approves of it. In general, the Western model of democracy has been reduced to the liberal minority dictating its will to the conservative majority. This negation of the right to non-liberal and non-Russophobic nonconformity is applicable not only to Ukraine, but to their allies in the Western bloc as well. As recently as the day before yesterday, Head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen openly threatened Italy. She said there would be consequences if Brussels would not like the results of the vote in that country. Hungary is already on the black list. Speaking about the candidates to the European Union, Serbia suffers most. Despite the fact that it has historically sympathized with Russia, today Serbia is made to adopt an anti-Russian position and support sanctions against my country, which would devastate Serbian economy. Here is a recent example: American Ambassador in Belgrade demanded explanations from the Serbian side regarding the plan of consultations between Russian and Serbian foreign ministries that was signed on the sidelines of the High Level Week. What is it then if not neo-colonial dictation?
When denying the people of Donbas and the liberated territories of Ukraine their right to self-determination, Western delegations demonstrate blatant double standards. Most ardent disparagers of the referenda in Donbas, Kherson, and Zaporozhye regions, used to be among the first to support Kosovo’s independence back in the day. They used to say that the territory of Kosovo had the right to secede from Serbia in case of a real threat that the rights of Kosovar Albanians may be seriously violated. They called it “remedial cessation”. Let me emphasize that those were not just claims, but the official legal position, which Western states adopted in the International Court of Justice in 2008. Even though by that moment Kosovar Albanians had not been exposed to any threat for quite a while. Yugoslavia did not exist already, and Serbia, which had been bombed by NATO, had foreign contingents stationed as peacekeepers.
Unlike Crimea, DPR, LPR, Kherson, and Zaporozhye, Kosovo did not have any referendum at all. There was no free expression of the people’s will. There only was a declaration of independence adopted by a self-governance body that clearly stepped beyond its authorities. But for the West, it was enough to recognize Kosovo’s independence. They said the international law did not prohibit declaring independence.
Today Western delegations stick to a completely different position. This is another manifestation of their cynical double standards.
Distinguished colleagues from developing states,
Do not let yourselves be misled. For the record, Western delegations are lamenting alleged violation of the international law and the principles of the UN Charter, but in reality they do not care for either of those. They support the right to self-determination only when it meets their geopolitical interests, as was the case with Kosovo. It allowed them to pursue their own agenda in the Balkans, while preventing nations from walking down the path of sovereign development. But when self-determination appears to be the only way to save the people of Donbas from genocide, the West says they have no such right.
The Charter of the United Nations stipulates the principle of respect for territorial integrity. However under the international law, this respect is not unconditional. As we know, the General Assembly, when acting collectively and on the basis of a consensus, elaborated on the principle of territorial integrity in its Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. According to the Declaration, all states should respect sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, where governments respect the principle of self-determination of nations and represent all peoples dwelling on their territories. Today, our Western colleagues prefer to not recall this crucial criterion. After the 2014 coup; after prohibiting the Russian language, education, and media; after the Maidan authorities had bombed the area where people refused to recognize the results of the coup; after burning Russian activists alive in Odessa; after the regime that put Ukrainian nation above all and worshipped Nazi collaborators and their legacy took root in Kiev – after all that does anybody dare to say that the Kiev authorities represent the interests of the people of Donbas and the Russian-speaking population at large whom they subject either to Ukrainization or extermination?
It is quite obvious that states who fully respect all its resident peoples and historical ethnic groups should have no fear for their territorial integrity. Our European neighbors, except the Baltic states that are terminally ill with Russophobia, know this too well and never behave like the Kiev regime does at home. Belgium, Switzerland, Finland are the brightest examples of tolerance to a multitude of cultures and languages. Same can be said about Asian and African states with diverse ethnical composition. Only Ukraine, where Russian-speakers account for at least 40% of the population has received from the West a carte blanche for forced Ukrainization of those people – contrary to all civilizational norms and recommendations of international organizations. So why is the West so much surprised that people in Ukraine welcome Russian troops as liberators, no matter how hard the Kiev regime which is only sustained by “NATO spears” tries to assert the opposite, threatening to punish the people of those regions for collaborationism?
By the way, the authorities in Kiev do not hesitate to use the Russian language from time to time – for tactical and propaganda purposes. Suffice it to mention that lately, President Zelensky recorded a few video addresses in Russian in an attempt to disrupt partial mobilization that has been announced in Russia and drive a wedge between the authorities and the society – following the best traditions of Maidan. In his address today, President Zelensky again claimed that in the first place, mobilization touched upon people who are not ethnic Russians, namely – men representing indigenous peoples of the Russian regions. But this will not work with Russia. Western propaganda makers have but a faint understanding of the Russian mentality. Our people can tell truth from lies. They know what they are fighting for – the way their granddads fought for centuries every time an external enemy tried to weaken our country. In different periods of history, we fought in battles to defended our freedom and our right to follow our own way. Our people remember their history, they remember how hard it was. But today, like decades and centuries ago, we stand ready to uphold the interests of our homeland and protect the weak. It is in our genes, and no Western propaganda, no fastidious political scientists are going to change this. Everyone understands that the only goal of the West, which we have met head-on near our borders, is to weaken and exsanguinate Russia, and ideally – to dismember and subjugate it.
Kiev’s Western sponsors completely disregard the wishes and interests of Ukraine. The people of Ukraine, just as the people of Russia, want peace. But this does not fit into the plans of London and Washington, who earn billions of USD out of someone else’s misfortunes, or Brussels that plays along with them. Otherwise they would not have checked Kiev in March this year when a peace deal was already visible. Instead, a terrible provocation in Bucha took place, and an instruction followed to fight until the last Ukrainian under the watch of NATO mercenaries and instructors.
As we predicted, this scenario had rather deplorable outcomes. Not only the people of Crimea and Donbas, but also of Kherson and Zaporozhye regions turned their backs on Kiev. This process will invariably continue unless Kiev realizes its mistakes and strategic miscalculations and starts to be guided by the interests of its people instead of blindly delivering on the will of those who rejoice at having collided two brotherly nations against one another.
We would want to believe that among our colleagues in the Security Council and the General Assembly, someone will be able to reveal this simple truth to Kiev.
Right of reply:
I will be brief. I want to draw your attention to the following. What we just heard from the representative of Albania is a proof of the double standards that I talked about regarding Kosovo. Our Western colleagues, who call to act in a particular way about the referenda, made completely different decisions with regard to Kosovo back in the day.