by Miceál O’Hurley
UNITED NATIONS — Yesterday, His Excellency Mr. Sergiy Kyslytsya, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, appeared before the Security Council to deliver a Statement on further violations by the Russian Federation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. In his blistering remarks, Ambassador Kyslytsya provided the UNSC with a candid, if not forceful assessment of the common perception that Russia has used its role as a Permanent Member of the UNSC to paralyse the UN from fulfilling its mandate of promoting peace and deterring war.
Highlighting Russia’s propensity for its actions to depart sharply from its rhetoric, Ambassador Kyslytsya reminded the UNSC of the words of Russia’s Ambassador to the UN, spoken in the same chamber, only a few, short days ago:
“We must do all we can to make sure that the problem of Donbas is resolved through implementation of the Minsk Agreements.” That was said here in the Security Council Chamber just four days ago. Said by the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister in the chair of the President of the Council, with a reference to President Putin.
Russia’s unilateral decision to recognise its proxy regimes in temporarily occupied Luhansk and Donetsk, a gross violation of international law, effectively voids its responsibilities under the UN Charter, further repudiate its commitments under the Budapest Memorandum and renounce its obligations under the very Minsk Agreements it cited in the UNSC have made abundantly clear for the world to see that Russia feels it is not bound by treaty, contract, obligation or any semblance of a rules-based world order. Moreover, Russian President Vladimir Putin laid bare for the world to see and hear that his previous claims that Ukraine’s NATO membership ambitions were at the heart of his concerns for Russia’s safety was a mere ruse, unequivocally declaring Ukraine to be an existential issue is his real concern:
"Let's start with the fact that modern Ukraine was entirely created by Russia, more precisely, by the Bolshevik, communist Russia. This process began almost immediately after the 1917 revolution," Putin said on Monday.
For the past several month, Putin has caused a succession of world leaders, including German Chancellor Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron, to make the pilgrimage to the Kremlin to negotiate on security guarantees to satisfy Putin’s demand that Ukraine permanently be blocked from NATO membership. Despite Putin’s biography, in which he describes what he saw as his ‘destiny‘ to reunite the former Soviet Union, and last summers essay in which he clearly enunciated his belief that former Soviet Republics and Warsaw Pact countries ‘belong‘ to Russia, world leaders persisted in opting-in to Putin’s misdirection and focused on NATO security guarantees. Last’s night speech by Putin, in which he signed the instrument recognising Russia’s proxy regimes in Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk underscored that NATO was never the issue – it was always Russia’s territorial ambitions to reclaim control over Ukraine that has driven Putin’s actions.
The West, which has continually subsidised Putin’s insatiable propensity for flouting international law and occupying the sovereign territories of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine has now realised, far too late, that they should have believed Putin when, like Hitler, articulated ad nauseum, far in advance what were his genuine goals. Ignoring Putin’s biography and last summer’s essay, and 22-years of invasions and illegal occupations of sovereign territories belonging to Russia’s neighbours, and a trail of blood from the hamlet of Salisbury to Syria, the West persisted in its self-inflicted fantasy that Putin could be trusted as a rational actor and reliable partner.
Western leaders who misspent the last few months in folly trying to negotiate security guarantees and ignoring Putin’s stated territorial, expansionist claims must now face the reality they undermined Ukraine’s right to individual and collective self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter. From Germany refusing to state unequivocally that Nord Stream 2 would be cancelled or allowing Estonia to transfer German-made artillery to Ukraine for its self-defense (ach, sure, in their ‘solidarity‘ they were willing to send helmets and hospital beds instead) to France continuing to offer concessions to appease Putin, Europe must now admit its culpability in making Ukraine a vulnerable lamb to be devoured by the wolf that is Russia. The United States and United Kingdom fared no better. They each failed spectacularly in upholding their commitments in the Budapest Memorandum to safeguard Ukraine’s territorial integrity and independence – guarantees made in exchange for Ukraine having made the world incredibly safer by voluntarily putting what was the 3rd largest nuclear arsenal in the world beyond use in exchange for security guarantees (by no less than Russia).
All of this has not only positioned Ukraine to be a sacrificial lamb, but has made Europe’s much vaunted talk of values and rules effectively meaningless. From his perch in North Korea, Kim Jong Un’s belief that possessing a nuclear arsenal is a necessary element in security the longevity of his authoritarian regime has been reinforced. In Tehran, the quest to complete the ability to create a nuclear weapon has undoubtedly given Iran a new sense of urgency. In the South China sea, Taiwan must now be quaking in its boots having witnessed the bloodless ease by which Putin has now copper fastened the partition of Ukraine and show the UN and NATO have enablers in allowing it with 22-years of unending acts of concessions to Putin – each inviting new demands for appeasement.
The world is a far more dangerous place today because the West deluded itself into believing that Putin care about rules, values, commitments or any other recognisable feature of humanity. Putin’s thirst for power and dominion over all lands from the Black Sea to the Baltics will plague Europe for years to come. Anyone who believes that the rest of Europe is safe at this point will undoubtedly continue to be a willfully blind enabler of the juggernaut that is wielded by Putin in his almost mystical quest to reunite the Soviet empire.
History will record, with no small amount of scorn, that Europe sleep-walked into this fiasco while ignoring the alarm for years, repeatedly hitting the snooze button until waking-up to the reality that Putin’s unquenchable appetite to destroy Europe’s security architecture and subdue his sovereign neighbours was well on its way to work.
Ambassador Kyslytsya’s full Statement appears below (check against delivery):
Statement by the Permanent Representative of Ukraine Mr. Sergiy Kyslytsya at the UNSC meeting on further violations by the Russian Federation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine (21 February 2022) Distinguished members of the Security Council, Under-Secretary, It is with unease that I will now remove my mask and it is not because of the COVID virus. We are all vaccinated, there are vaccines for COVID. It is because of the virus that has so far no vaccine. The virus that hit the UN and the virus that is spread by the Kremlin. The delegation of Ukraine has requested this urgent meeting to draw the attention of the Security Council to the illegal and illegitimate decision by the President of the Russian Federation to recognize the occupied parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine as so-called “Donetsk and Luhansk peoples’ republics”. Today the entire membership of the UN is under attack. Under attack by the country that occupied the membership of the Security Council in 1991 bypassing the UN Charter, the country that occupied the parts of the territory of Georgia in 2008, the country that occupied the parts of Ukraine in 2014. As stated by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy following the urgent meeting of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine: The internationally recognized borders of Ukraine have been and will remain unchangeable regardless of any statements and actions by the Russian Federation. Ukraine unequivocally qualifies the recent actions by the Russian Federation as violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The political leadership of the Russian Federation shall bear full responsibility for the outcomes of the decisions taken. Recognition of the occupied parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine may be considered as unilateral withdrawal by Russia from the Minsk Agreements and well as its disregard of the decisions taken in the framework of the Normandy Four. This step undermines peaceful efforts and ruins the existing negotiating frameworks. By the decisions, adopted today, and those, that may be adopted tomorrow, Russia legalizes the presence of its troops, which have actually been in the occupied areas of Donbas since 2014. A country that has fueled the war for eight years is not able to maintain peace, as it claims. What will happen next? We want peace and we are consistent in our actions. Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has sent a request on the basis of the Budapest Memorandum to the guarantors of security of Ukraine, demanding immediate consultations. The meeting of the UN Security Council and a special meeting of the OSCE have been initiated. We insist on the full-fledged operations of the OSCE SMM to prevent provocations and further escalation. An emergency summit of Normandy Four has been requested. We expect from our partners clear and efficient steps of support. It is critical to see now - who is our true friend and partner, who is on the side of the UN Charter, and who will continue to deter Russia by words only. We are committed to a political-diplomatic settlement and do not succumb to provocations. In accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter, Ukraine has the inherent right to individual and collective self-defense. We are committed to a peaceful and diplomatic path. And we will stay firmly on it. We are on our own land. We are not afraid of anything or anyone. We owe nothing to anyone. And we will not give away anything to anyone. There should be no doubts whatsoever. Because it is not February 2014, it is February 2022. Another country. Another army. One goal is peace. Peace in Ukraine. Peace in Europe. Global peace. Excellencies, “We must do all we can to make sure that the problem of Donbas is resolved through implementation of the Minsk Agreements.” That was said here in the Security Council Chamber just four days ago. Said by the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister in the chair of the President of the Council, with a reference to President Putin. President Putin, who has taken a decision, that we discuss today as a threat to the rules-based order, to the UN Charter, in particular its Article 2, as well as to international peace and security. Peace and security that the Council has been conferred a primary responsibility to maintain under the Article 24 of the UN Charter. And in accordance of the Article 39 the Security Council shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken to maintain or restore international peace and security. The delegation of Ukraine requests the Security Council members to exercise the above duties. We invite the Russian Federation to re-read again and again carefully today’s statement where the Secretary-General considered the decision of the Russian Federation be a violation of territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and inconsistent with the principles of the UN Charter. I thank the Secretary-General for this powerful statement. In conclusion I would like to reiterate that it remains up to Russia to abandon its long-lasting strategy on Ukraine, based on threat and use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of my country, and re-engage on what we all have committed to – fundamental principles of peaceful relations enshrined in the UN Charter. We demand from Russia to cancel the decision on recognition and return to the table of negotiations. We condemn the order to deploy additional Russian occupation troops in the territories of Ukraine. We demand immediate and complete verifiable withdrawal of the occupation troops. Distinguished Members of the Security Council, The UN is sick. That’s a matter of fact. It’s been hit by the virus spread by the Kremlin. Will it succumb to the virus, it is in the hands of the membership. Today the Kremlin copy-pasted word by word the decree on Georgia of 2008. Word by word. Copy pasted. No creativity whatsoever. The copying machine in the Kremlin works very well. Who is the next among the members of the UN? The question is open. Thank you for your attention.