7683rd Security Council Meeting: Situation in Ukraine

Preview Language:   English
28-Apr-2016 02:38:05
Briefing Security Council on Eastern Ukraine conflict, Assistant Secretary-General underscores need for progress towards political settlement, at 7683rd meeting.

Available Languages: Six Official
Six Official
Other Formats
Concerned by escalating violence and political gridlock in eastern Ukraine, senior officials of the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) called on all parties to the three-year old conflict to immediately lay down their weapons and make good on their commitments under the Minsk agreements, during a Security Council meeting this afternoon on the subject.

“All concerned should find common ground and take immediate steps to live up to the commitments they have undertaken on other bedrock political issues, including amnesty and ‘special status’ Constitution changes, as well as on the exchange of prisoners,” said Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs.

The failure to fully implement the “Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements” underscored the need for progress towards a political settlement, he said. Despite some positive developments since the Council last considered the matter in December — including a largely respected ceasefire during the last weeks of 2015 and a meeting of the Ministers of France, Germany, the Russian Federation and Ukraine in March — the overall situation in the conflict area remained precarious and unsustainable.

The number of conflict-related casualties had risen to 30,729, he said. Fighting, often involving heavy weapons, was being reported daily, reaching levels not seen since August 2014. More than 3 million people still needed assistance, especially those near the “contact line” and in areas beyond Government control, yet undue bureaucratic impediments had deprived hundreds of thousands of people access to essential services and supplies.

There were also a number of pressing human rights concerns, including the recent decision to ban the activities of the Mejlis, the representative body of the Crimean Tatars, he said.

Ertuğrul Apakan, Chief Monitor of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, speaking via videoconference from Kyiv, added that the closure of the Luhansk checkpoints made it difficult for people to access their workplaces. Attacks on the Mission were occurring with impunity, and that must end.

To reach people on the ground, the Mission was working with various United Nations agencies and had expanded its presence on both sides of the contact line, with 13 bases in operation, he said. With 700 monitors from 47 countries, it aimed to expand further, with the hope of receiving more technical support such as drones and cameras.

Martin Sajdik, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Group, pointed to the success in substantially reducing the number of victims, both military and civilian. Important security decisions had been reached on such issues as demining and the withdrawal of heavy weapons, but there was ample space for improvement.

Ceasefire violations had reached alarming numbers and, with the Orthodox Easter approaching, “this needs to stop now”, he emphasized. On the political front, efforts had concentrated on the modalities for holding local elections. Corresponding laws to be adopted by Parliament would require a willingness to compromise on the part of all participants. The elections would also require a secure environment, before, during and after polling day.

One aspect of the Minsk agreements awaited a full answer: the complete restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, he said. Noting that many issues covered by the agreements were intertwined, he said a package of measures was required to ensure a sustainable solution to the conflict, adding that further progress would be possible with the firm political backing of the Normandy Four and other important actors.

Vadym Prystaiko, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Chief of Staff in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, speaking after the briefing, called on the Council to demand that the Russian Federation “just get off our land in the Crimea and the east of Ukraine”. Saying the security situation was not improving and the Minsk agreements were not being implemented, he noted that the situation along the line of contact had deteriorated. He expressed deep concern with the humanitarian situation on the ground, adding that the Russian Federation had deployed a 34,000-strong hybrid military force in Donbas, where Russian proxies had ruined the socioeconomic infrastructure. “We are totally committed to the political settlement,” he said, adding that better security was required in order to kick-start elections that were essential to the peace process.

Vitaly I. Churkin (Russian Federation) said that the events in Ukraine over the past two-and-a-half years had been provoked by an externally supported coup d’état. In adopting resolution 2202 (2015), the Council had assumed responsibility for the package of measures for implementation of the Minsk agreements, and it should remain focused on that. He also said that in Kyiv, there appeared to be no contradiction between the President and the new Prime Minister, who apparently did not intend to carry out reforms. The only way forward towards ending the situation in Donbas was through implementation of the package of measures in the Minsk agreements, he said, adding that Crimea was a domestic affair of the Russian Federation.

Also speaking today were the representatives of France, United Kingdom, United States, Spain, Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia, Egypt, Uruguay, Venezuela, Angola, Senegal and China.

The meeting began at 3:04 p.m. and ended at 5:42 p.m.
Topical Subjects
Geographic Subjects
Parent ID
Asset ID