PRESS RELEASE / COMMUNIQUÉ DE PRESSE
by H.E. Mr. Yuriy Sergeyev
Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations
on the occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea by Russian Federation in 2014
Exactly one year ago the world security system faced the unprecedented challenge. All basic principles of the UN Charter have been questioned. One of the United Nations Security Council permanent members violated sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in an attempt to redraw by military force internationally recognized and legally set borders in Europe. This member is Russia.
One year ago unprecedented aggression was exercised against Ukraine by Russia, which had previously committed itself to guaranteeing the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity of my country and which, virtually at every street corner, had kept declaring its brotherly relations with Ukraine.
There’s a long list of documents and treaties that Russia has breached with its actions against Ukraine.
One year ago, under the most difficult circumstances, right after the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine – full of grief and pain, and of joy and hope – we suddenly discovered widely infamous “little polite green men” in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea of Ukraine, on our sovereign territory.
Supported by “little green men” and guided from Moscow, some local self-proclaimed leaders declared themselves as legitimate authorities of Crimea and simply forced people to obey their new rules.
After two weeks of blatant occupation, Russia and pro-Russian groups in Crimea manipulated brutally the right for self-determination and conducted a so-called referendum in Ukraine’s Crimea. And again, it was a gun that served as an argument in “persuading” Ukrainian citizens – inhabitants of Crimea - to participate in this sham referendum.
We all know what happened next: prepared in advance results of the referendum were announced, self-proclaimed fake Crimea's authorities declared independence from Ukraine and asked for joining the Russian Federation. It took the Russian President no time to sign a treaty on Accession of Crimea to Russia under an unthinkable pretext of reclaiming territory that used to be part of Russia.
Illegal occupation of Crimea is interpreted for "internal Russian consumption" as its "return-back home". That was the message of the propaganda movie "Crimea. A way back home" made by Russian State television and shown on the TV screens 15 March 2015.
The total mistruth of this "fairy tale" is targeted on those who don't know the history of the peninsula, as well as real reasons why Crimea was included as an administrative item of Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954. It was performed with the only one purpose - to urgently save the peninsula, destroyed after IIWW, from huge economic, social and infrastructure crisis. It is paradoxical, that Crimea as an integral part of Ukraine is confirmed by many bilateral Ukraine-Russia treaties which are still in force. Everything that was shown in this "movie" is nothing but another Russia's jeer on international law.
Russia’s annexation of Crimea was based on the recognition of a referendum which has no legitimacy in international law.
The international community has recognized neither the validity of the referendum, nor the annexation of Crimea by Russia from Ukraine.
The UN General Assembly Resolution “Territorial Integrity of Ukraine” left Russia completely isolated in the world. European community supported by other nations took a firm stand of not recognizing Russia’s illegal and illegitimate “annexation” of Crimea.
Since Russian troops “liberated” (as the Russian side calls this) the Crimea, human rights situation in the region has deteriorated dramatically. People in Crimea are now facing numerous humanitarian problems. One of them is the problem of “internally displaced persons”. Thousands of them had to leave the Crimean peninsula (their home) to Ukrainian mainland because of the occupation regime imposed by the Russian authorities. Thousands of Crimean Tatars left, not willing to live in danger to their families.
We witness the continuation of worrying trends, including instances of enforced disappearances, detentions, violence, intimidation, harassment and ill-treatment committed by the occupying authorities.
The only group of people, who do not have any problems in Crimea now, are Russian militaries, the ever increasing presence of whom we are constantly observing. And this situation becomes even more complicated. The Russian MFA in its public statement didn’t exclude the possibility of deployment of nuclear weapons at the territory of Crimea. Moreover, Russia claims to have a legitimate right to that.
Unfortunately, Russia did not stop after the annexation of Crimea. Apparently, Russian leadership was not fully satisfied and started targeting other parts of Ukraine, this time targeting our eastern regions applying the same “Crimean” strategy and hybrid war technology.
Russian-sponsored illegal paramilitary units continued destabilizing the situation in the eastern regions of Ukraine and creating grounds for a new stage of military aggression.
And again, like it was in the case of Crimea, the Kremlin continues denying its involvement and trying to present current developments as a civil war in Ukraine. At the same time, local civilians flee massively to the regions of Ukraine unaffected by terrorists. We have more that 1 million of such IDPs in the central and western Ukraine. These people are running from the “Russian world” and the “protection” proposed by its terrorists, which means, in fact, nothing else than total devastation of normal life, infrastructure, economic and social systems.
The Russia-provoked crisis is not an internal affair of Ukraine. Not a civil war. Not a revolt of unsatisfied citizens. It’s an aggression against Ukraine, on Ukraine’s sovereign territory.
An immediate goal of the Russian Federation is to re-establish political and economic control over Ukraine;
and not to allow Ukraine in Europe and Europe in Ukraine. But ambitions go far beyond – to restore “spheres of influence” of the Russian Federation in Europe in the spirit of the Cold War.
To achieve this goal, Moscow does not disdain any means: from complete destruction of the occupied territories, terrorizing and killing innocent civil population, to holding hostages, including Ukrainian former pilot and current Member of Parliament Nadiia Savchenko and film director Oleh Sentsov.
That’s how the year has passed, combat actions alongside with intensive negotiations. We all have been trying and taking all possible political steps in order to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.
The Trilateral Contact Group, the Geneva and Normandy formats of negotiations and Minsk arrangements – we’ve tried it all in search for peaceful settlement of the situation. But, unfortunately, they didn’t work out effectively.
For its part, Ukraine remains fully committed to implementing the Minsk Arrangements of 5 and 19 September 2014, and the Package of measures for the implementation of Minsk Arrangements of 12 February 2015.
We consider that the implementation of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Arrangements is the only way to a peaceful settlement of the situation in the Donbas region.
Despite the claims, the separatists and the Russian Federation as their sponsor continue to grossly violate the provisions of Minsk arrangements.
This is exactly the reason why President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko decided to request international peacekeeping forces from the UN and the EU.
The question now is whether our response is sufficient to return Crimea to Ukraine, to stop the aggression and the aggressor from advancing westwards, to bring him back into the framework of international law. We all must take it seriously and exert every possible effort in order to restore effective functioning of the global security system.
This is not about Ukraine only. This is about all of us, our future and future of our children. Wherever you live our security is interdependent.
And what further actions we see:
- returning to the principles of international law, including in the case of Crimea. There should not be any doubt that in this key issue we will compromise. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine is one of the grounds we have jointly built our common and indivisible security;
- full and unconditional implementation of the Minsk arrangements with regard to the situation in the eastern Ukraine;
- further utilization of all enforced political and economic instruments because despite all efforts the expected results are still far away.
Crimean peninsula was and will be an integral part of Sovereign Ukrainian State.
New York, 16 March 2015