1 March 2014
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Transcript of Press Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General


The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s briefing by Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Spokesperson:  The Secretary-General continues to closely follow the seriously and rapidly unfolding events in Ukraine closely, including developments in Crimea, and is gravely concerned about the deterioration of the situation.

The Secretary-General reiterates his call for the full respect for and preservation of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

He calls for an immediate restoration of calm and direct dialogue between all concerned to solve the current crisis.

The Secretary-General will be speaking with President Vladimir Putin of Russia shortly about the situation in Ukraine.

As the Secretary-General is about to fly to Europe, he has asked the Deputy Secretary-General to attend today’s Security Council session to brief members of the Council on developments in Ukraine.

And that’s what I have for you.  I’m happy to take a couple of questions.  Yes, please, Pam?

Question:  Martin, is there any feedback from the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Robert Serry, from Kyiv?  Will he go to Crimea or has he met with other leaders?

Spokesperson:  Well, Robert Serry intends to go to Geneva tomorrow so that he can brief the Secretary-General directly.  He had wanted to visit Crimea but this proved to be logistically difficult and therefore he has opted to go to Geneva as initially planned, and this would be to brief the Secretary-General directly.  Of course, there have been telephone conversations, including this morning, about the rapidly unfolding events in Ukraine and I can tell you that, as I have said, the Secretary-General is gravely concerned and will continue to monitor this very closely.

Question:  Just as a quick follow-up, has the Secretary-General made any statement or feel any way about the territorial integrity of Ukraine vis-à-vis any kind of troop movements of Russia?

Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General has reiterated here in this statement, he’s called for the full respect for and preservation of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.  And in fact, this is something that we have heard from right across the spectrum of views on what is happening in Ukraine.  There was a clear view in the Council yesterday, if not on many other matters, certainly there was a clear view about the territorial integrity of Ukraine, as I understand it.

Yes, Ivan, and then Oleg.

Question:  Do you have anything specific to say about the decision of the Russian Parliament about troops in Ukraine?

Spokesperson:  Look, we’ve seen the reports, but we don’t have any specific comment at the moment.

At the moment, the key factor here is the restoration of calm and direct dialogue.  What we need now is on all sides in this matter cool heads and really a calm approach to this.

Question:  Thank you, Martin.  There are some reports that the leader of the radical opposition of Ukraine called for the leader of Chechen terrorists, Doku Umarov, to support Ukrainian opposition against Russia.  Does the Secretary-General have anything to say on this development?

Spokesperson:  Look, there are all kinds of reports, some more credible than others, floating about in cyberspace, and I think that we continue to watch these developments closely.  We are aware of various reports, but we’re not going to comment on every individual one that pops up like that.


Question:  One follow-up; this is official.  The Governor of Belgorod region in Russia reported that there are thousands of refugees fleeing into this region of Russia.  Does the Secretary-General plan to discuss this issue with Vladimir Putin, maybe some support for the refugees from the United Nations?

Spokesperson:  Well, I think the Secretary-General wants to speak to President Putin directly to express his concerns, but also to hear directly from President Putin his assessment of the situation.

Now, with regard to refugees, this is something that, if substantiated, would be for the [United Nations] refugee agency to look at.  I would then refer you to the refugee agency.

Okay.  There are no other questions?  Thank you very much.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record