The Situation in Ukraine
By: Patrick Liu
1.Briefing from Under-SG for Political Affairs - Rosemary A. DiCarlo
DiCarlo briefed the UNSC on the situation in Ukraine, focusing on the large portion of the Minsk provisions that remain unimplemented. DiCarlo underscored the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and specified that 3.4 million people are in need of humanitarian aid. Finally, due to the continuous quagmire, DiCarlo encouraged member states to alleviate this situation while also ensuring that the Ukrainian’ international humanitarian rights are respected.
2. Briefing from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission Chief to Ukraine - Amb. Ertugrul Apakan
The OSCE SMM Chief updated the UNSC on challenges to the Minsk Agreements, a deal signed by Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany in 2014 to alleviate the war in the Donbass region of Ukraine. This including difficulties on impact to civilians and longer-term consequences. Apakan urged the need for the parties to “agree on additional measures to make a ceasefire sustainable and irreversible.” Apkan further noted all the weapons violations that have happened ever since certain states reneged on the Minsk agreements. In the face of increased violence in the area, the SSM hopes to facilitate productive and cooperative dialogue on the ground
3. Briefing from ASG Humanitarian Affairs - Ursula Mueller
The UNOCHA ASG, Ursula Mueller, insisted on the enhanced protection of civilians in the Ukrainian conflict and demanded that international rules and laws be respected by all parties in Ukraine. Mueller reminds the UNSC and the parties involved that “wars have limits,” especially when they affect civilians. In essence, she urged the relevant states to respect the tenets of international humanitarian law (also known as the law of armed conflict).
Mueller lamented that, despite the greater humanitarian access available, the slow pace of funding to the humanitarian effort has forced many Ukrainians to reach the breaking point which could potentially increase tensions between the relevant parties.
4. Briefing from Poland Minister of Foreign Affairs - Jacek Krysztof Czaputowicz
The FM of Poland stood adamantly beside Ukraine, citing the “foolishness of those who underestimate the resiliency” of the Ukrainian people. The FM acknowledged that despite the Ukrainian Minister’s tremendous efforts, the UNSC members, with primary responsibilities to maintain peace and security, must continue to help resolve this conflict. The Poland FM emphasized this responsibility for both elected and permanent members. On the humanitarian front, the FM cited that the highest price in Ukraine “is to the civilians”. The FM uged Russia to allow greater international humanitarian aid into the affected regions, to restore freedoms, and to cease human rights violations.
The FM addressed Russia’s “illegal annexation of Crimea”, and stressed that it broke basic principles of international law, referencing the recent international law open debate. The FM urged Russia to admit to these blatant violations. The FM noted the continued intense military situation in Eastern Ukraine, and the violations to the Minsk agreement with regards to regular use of heavy weapons. The FM denounced Russia’s actions that undermine peace efforts, including the Malaysia Airlines plane that Russia shot down in 2014, and demanded that Russia utilize its influence to secure a sustainable cease fire.
The FM urged the UNSC to establish a peacekeeping mission, select a “special envoy to access the situation”, and dedicate efforts to easing tensions and restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
- Statements from the P-5 members
- United States
The United States referenced the international law open debate. As a direct violation of sovereignty of the UN Charter of one state by another, the UNSC was designed to address this flagrant conduct. The US stated that “Russia insults our intelligence by saying [the Ukrainian conflict] is a homegrown conflict.” Instead, the US asserted the culpability of Russia as the driving force of the Ukrainian conflict, as well as its role in the downing of MH17. Russia is in Ukraine to control the country for its own benefit, not to protect the civilians. Because of Russia’s flagrant behavior in the Ukrainian crisis, the U.S. imposed sanctions against Russia. Consequently, during the debate, the U.S. belabored upon its sanctions against Russia.
Due to of the increasingly volatile and dangerous situation in Ukraine and the resulting humanitarian situation and environmental damage mandate, the UK requested the UNSC to place the situation onto the UNSC’s agenda. Additionally,The UK called for all parties to respect the laws of war (law of armed conflict), and urged all parties to recommit to the ceasefire. The UK also demanded that Russia should adhere fundamental international rules, especially with reference to its illegal annexation of Crimea.
Concerning the downing of MH17, the UK stressed that Russia is undoubtedly responsible and must accept responsibility. If Russia really cares about the people in Donbass, “[it] should stop the conflict that [it] started.”
3. Joint Statement France and Germany-will continue in the am
On behalf of both France and Germany, France emphasized that the Ukrainian situation is “not a frozen conflict” and parties must implement commitments undertook by the Minsk agreements. In regards to the security situation, France condemned the violations of ceasefire, particularly Russia’s violations, and hoped for an independent working team to investigate these violations. France insisted that the international community provide greater facilitation of humanitarian access and the accessibility of basic living necessities such as food, water, and shelter. France noted that a long-term resolution will depend on political and economic outcomes, not military. France restated their continued support for Ukraine, and hoped for a lasting peace throughout the European Continent.
4.Russian Federation - (see below)
China called on the ceasefire from all parties in order to stay on course for a political settlement in E. Ukraine. Because of the legitimate interests of diverse regional populations as well as the “complexities” of the conflict parties, China iterated that the Minsk agreement is the only path forward. In implementing the resolutions of the Minsk Agreement, China hoped for a comprehensive lasting peace and harmony through dialogue.
- Statements from the Non P-5 members
- Europe: Netherlands Minister of Foreign Affairs - Stef Blok
The FM of the Netherlands emphasized the toll of the conflict on young Ukrainians and civilians, noting that the conflict has also put the “international rule book in jeopardy”. Furthermore, the FM focused on the escalation of the conflict leading to the downing of MH17 that killed 193 Dutch citizens as well as citizens from across the world. The Netherlands stressed that they will not rest “until justice is achieved” and Russia is held accountable for the downing. In order to establish truths and accountability, “no state has the right to remain silent”. With broad support from NATO, Australia, and European partners, the Netherlands demanded that Russia accept responsibility and work to ending the Ukrainian conflict.
Bolivia called on the parties involved to abide by the principles of the UN and international humanitarian law. Specifically, Bolivia demanded the protection of civilians in the increasingly dangerous conflict zones.Bolivia lamented the impact on “regional stability” from the ongoing conflict in E. Ukraine. Bolivia and Peru both condemned the use of antipersonnel mines and the downing of MH17.
3. Central Asia
Kazakhstan urged for the overall disengagement of parties in the conflict of Ukraine. Moreover, Kazakhstan called for safe, unhindered access for monitors, as well as free access of humanitarian assistance to the conflict zones.
4. Middle East
Kuwait expressed its concerns about the renewed fighting in Eastern Ukraine and urged states to implement the Minsk agreements. Kuwait further underlined the humanitarian aspects of the situation and condemned the illegal shelling that risks many civilians’ lives. Kuwait hoped that the parties will find a peaceful solution in line with the UNSC resolutions and the Minsk agreements.
Equatorial Guinea emphasized the need for the parties involved to cooperate with the OSCE in order to make progress. In upholding the Minsk agreements, Equatorial Guinea urged parties to have an immediate ceasefire, facilitate safe access of humanitarian aid, and work to improve living conditions of civilians.
Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire similarly shared these concerns. Ethiopia addressed the downing of MH17 and urged the cooperation of all states and actors to investigate this “worst crime”. Côte d’Ivoire also stressed the devastation to civilian life and infrastructure in the absence of progress of implementation of the Minsk agreement.
- Statement from Parties Involved
- Russian Federation
The Russian Federation took its time to respond to the points articulated by the rest of the UNSC: “I listened very carefully to my colleagues and so now you listen to me.” Russia described the conflict in Ukraine as not a “revolution of dignity”, but a revolution to overthrow power and take control. Russia defined the rhetoric as “pathetic expressions” from “people who are selling hot air”. Russia called out other UNSC members for falling into the trap of believing the propaganda from the “peace-loving” Ukraine. Russia reiterated that it is impossible to define an aggressor as Russia is not in a state of war with anyone, citing the movement of people across borders, the activity of business, and the absence of hostilities.
Russia proceeded to ask the UNSC if “Ukrainians are better off today after the revolution?”, despite the UNSC’s “self-imposed isolation from what is happening in Ukraine”. Russia described the hostilities being poured by authorities in Kiev, and the propaganda being spread by Ukrainian mass media that the UNSC are “unaware of”. Russia reported the recent killing of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko as yet another piece of evidence of hostility in Ukraine. Furthermore, Russia continued to mention sources of Ukrainian lawlessness, accusing the UN of “closing their eyes from it”. Russia emphasized this double standard of Ukrainian violence and lies presented as Russian slander and aggression.
Concerning the situation in Crimea, Russia highlighted that the people in Crimea have autonomy to move away from the “chaotic” Ukraine and honor their own heros instead of the ones honored by Kiev. Russia adamantly asserted that there have been no human rights violations in Crimea and no demand from the region to return to Kiev authority.
Afterwards, Russia went on a diatribe and accused UNSC members of purposefully encouraging instability along Russia’s borders. Russia asked the UNSC members if they truly understood the contents of the Minsk agreements or how to implement their articles. Russia urged the UNSC to refrain from rhetoric that impedes resolution of the crisis.
Russia shifted the blame onto Ukraine for shirking its responsibilities, and emphasized that the sequentiality of the agreements meant that ceasefire was only achievable after Ukraine implemented its portion of the Minsk agreements.
Turning toward the issue of MH17, Russia mourned the event but stressed that it was not planning on discussing the issue “because it not being relevant to the topic at hand today”. Russia accused the joint-investigation team of rushing the process, and noted that “some delegations who did not read it carefully decided to use it as anti-Russian sentiment”. Russia reasserted its role in demanding an investigation after the downing of MH17 and cooperating with the investigation by providing radio data. However, Russia expressed its frustration with the failure to account for the possibility of the missile originating from other territories, and insisted on a credible, true investigation in which Russia would be a fully fledged participant.
Request of Netherlands
The FM of the Netherlands requested to interject after the statement from the Russian Federation. The FM expressed his disappointment of Russia’s continued efforts to discredit the results of the joint investigation team, and to spread impossible alternative theories to the downing of MH17. The FM accused Russia of denying irrefutable evidence, and failing to seriously try to achieve justice. The FM noted the veto exercised by Russia against the establishment of a tribunal for this case. The FM of the Netherlands stated the need for Russia to enter bilateral talks with Netherlands to determine their responsibility of the downing of MH17.
2. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine - Pavlo Klimkin
Responding to Russia’s allegations against Ukraine, the FM of Ukraine illustrated the situation that led to Russia’s invasion, and the culpability of Russia in the downing of MH17. The FM of Ukraine alluded to Russia’s denial of conflict and urged the international community to reject Russia’s false view. The FM reaffirmed Ukraine’s commitment to the Minsk agreements and urged Russia to do the same. The FM cited the violations of international humanitarian law in the occupation of Crimea, and noted that “Russia’s list of violations is practically endless”. The FM of Ukraine urged Russia to stop this illegal occupation.
Moreover, the FM stressed Ukraine’s gratefulness for the international humanitarian assistance that it has been receiving, and hoped for a fully funded effort to continue to make a difference.
The FM highlighted its gratitude for the messages of solidarity from many members of the UNSC. The FM also expressed his condolences for the Russian reporter that was killed, but noted that he left Russia after threats to his family. Babchenko was considered an enemy to Moscow, and the FM commented on the history of political assassinations by Moscow.
3. Russian Federation
In response to Ukraine’s statement, the Russian Federation sarcastically stated that it was “touched by Ukraine’s concern for Crimea”. However, Russia ensured Ukraine not to worry as the Crimean people are quite happy in their current situation. Russia again mentioned the purpose of the meeting to discuss Ukraine, and not Crimea as Crimea is a part of Russia.