Kyiv’s Permanent Representative Tells Council President, ‘Your Words Have Less Value Than a Hole in a New York Pretzel’
Meeting today amid the unfolding crisis in Ukraine, the Security Council rejected a draft resolution intended to end the Russian Federation’s military offensive against that neighbouring State.
The draft, submitted by Albania and the United States, garnered support from 11 members but was vetoed by the Russian Federation. China, India and the United Arab Emirates all abstained.
Also by the draft, the 15-member Council would have deplored, in the strongest terms, the Russian Federation’s aggression as being in violation of Article 2, paragraph 4 of the Charter of the United Nations — an obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State.
The draft would also have the Council decide that the Russian Federation should immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine, and withdraw all its military forces immediately, completely, and unconditionally from that country’s territory.
Similarly, the draft would have the Council deplore the Russian Federation’s 21 February decision related to the status of certain areas of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions and decide that Moscow must immediately and unconditionally reverse that decision as it violates Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
By other terms of the draft, the Council would have called upon the parties to abide by the Minsk agreements and to work constructively in relevant international frameworks, including the Normandy Format (France, Germany, Russian Federation) and the Trilateral Contact Group (Ukraine, Russian Federation, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)).
In addition, the Council would have called upon all parties to allow and facilitate the rapid, safe and unhindered access of humanitarian assistance to those in need, to protect civilians, including humanitarian personnel, and persons in vulnerable situations, including children.
The Council would also have urged continued efforts by the Secretary-General, Member States, OSCE and other international and regional organizations, to support de-escalation in the current situation, as well as United Nations efforts to respond to the humanitarian and refugee crisis created by the Russian Federation’s aggression.
Today’s vote followed two late-night emergency meetings on the situation in Ukraine, on 21 and 23 February. The Russian Federation announced a “special military operation” in eastern Ukraine while the second emergency meeting was in session. (See Press Releases SC/14798 of 21 February and SC/14803 of 23 February.)
Speaking before the vote, the representative of the United States said her country and Albania proposed the draft resolution to hold the Russian Federation accountable. Council members should vote “yes” if they believe in upholding the Charter and supporting Ukraine’s or any State’s sovereignty, and otherwise vote “no” or abstain if they do not, she added.
Albania’s delegate stated that today will be long remembered as future generations will see who stood up for respecting human life and international law, and who did not.
Following the vote, the Russian Federation’s delegate explained that his delegation voted against the draft, as it contravenes the interests of the Ukrainian people — who have experienced a tragedy over the last eight years. He said the negative vote is due to what was left out of the text: that those who seized power in the coup d’état of 2014 have shelled the people of Donetsk and Luhansk; that Ukraine did not implement the Minsk agreements; and that neo-Nazis and militias continue to kill civilians, adding to such blood-chilling crimes as sniper attacks on protestors in the Maidan. How can there be a resolution without such issues? he asked.
He went on to emphasize that his country’s troops are not bombing cities nor targeting civilians. Noting the difficulty of competing with the United States, which excels in the number of invasions it has undertaken, he said Washington, D.C., is in no position to moralize. Moscow’s objectives will soon be achieved and the citizens of Ukraine will be able to determine their future, he added.
The United Kingdom’s delegate noted that whereas a large majority of Council members voted in favour of a draft resolution aimed at stopping war, the text was not adopted because of a single veto by a permanent member who perpetrated that conflict. That country’s claim that its invasion is in self-defence is “absurd”, she said.
China’s representative said he abstained because the Council’s response should be taken with great caution, with actions to defuse and not add fuel to the fire. Ukraine should be a bridge between the East and the West, not an outpost for major Powers, he added.
Ukraine’s representative, thanking those who supported the draft resolution, recalled multiple instances when his Russian counterpart denied intention of invasion, adding: “Your words have less value than a hole in a New York pretzel.” He argued that the Russian Federation’s presidency violates Rule 20 of the Council’s Provisional Rules of Procedure as that delegation cannot preside over an issue directly connected to its State. He went on to emphasize that nothing justifies today’s shelling of a kindergarten and an orphanage. War crimes and violations of the Rome Statute will be sent to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, he added.
He deplored that what may stop the war will unfortunately be the bodies of thousands of Russian soldiers delivered home to their mothers, he continued, pointing out that thousands of Ukrainians have joined the territorial defence force — proof that the country will never surrender, even if temporarily occupied.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Gabon, Mexico, Brazil, India, Norway, Ireland, France, Ghana, United Arab Emirates and Kenya.
The meeting began at 5:10 p.m. and ended at 6:59 p.m.