Briefing Security Council on Eastern Ukraine Conflict, Assistant Secretary-General Underscores Need for Progress towards Political Settlement

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28 April 2016
7683rd Meeting (PM)

Briefing Security Council on Eastern Ukraine Conflict, Assistant Secretary-General Underscores Need for Progress towards Political Settlement

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 two-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.

Briefings

TAYÉ-BROOK ZERIHOUN, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said the failure to fully implement the “Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements” underscored the need for progress towards the political settlement of a conflict entering its third year.  Since the Security Council had last considered the situation in Ukraine on 11 December 2015, some positive developments had been registered, including a largely respected ceasefire during the last weeks of 2015.  A meeting of the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany, the Russian Federation and Ukraine on 3 March, and an investment of time and political capital by relevant actors, had also been instrumental.  The new Government’s commitment to implementing the Minsk agreements had been widely welcomed, he said.  However, those positive steps had been undermined to some extent by the precarious and unsustainable overall situation in the conflict area, he said.

He went on to report that the number of conflict-related casualties had risen to 30,729, including 9,333 people killed and 21,396 injured.  Most of the recent civilian casualties had been caused by landmines, booby traps and other explosive remnants of war.  Fighting was being reported daily, reaching levels not seen since August 2014, he said, noting that clashes frequently involved the use of proscribed heavy weapons.  Calling on all parties to cease hostilities immediately and to implement their commitments under the Minsk agreements, he said improvement in the security situation would be crucial in creating an environment conducive to progress on the political front.  “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,” he said.

Turning to the humanitarian situation, he said more than 3 million people still needed assistance, especially those near the “contact line” and in areas beyond Government control.  Undue bureaucratic impediments had deprived hundreds of thousands of people access to essential services and supplies.  Due to the closure of checkpoints, many civilians were lining up for hours, often in unsafe locations, to gain access to basic services or to visit families or properties.  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, a particular concern.  He commended the vital contribution of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission, the Trilateral Contact Group, the Normandy Four leaders and others, emphasizing that progress in the peace process would ultimately depend on the political will, readiness and willingness of the parties to resolve the conflict through tangible deeds on the ground and at the negotiation table.

ERTUĞRUL APAKAN, Chief Monitor of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, spoke via videoconference from Kyiv, saying that violence in the northern Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine had escalated to its highest level since August 2015, and included the use of heavy weaponry.  An increasing number of facilities had been completely abandoned, and about 700 civilians living in and around the line monitored by the Trilateral Contact Group remained missing.  Attacks, including on the Special Monitoring Mission, were occurring with impunity, and that must end, he emphasized.

Inaction by parties that had stated their commitment to a ceasefire and to protecting civilians undermined efforts for normalization and further endangered implementation of the Minsk agreements, he said, adding that a joint control and coordination centre could be instrumental in addressing challenges to peace.  The Special Monitoring Mission had further expanded its presence on both sides of the contact line and stepped up efforts to monitor border areas under Government control.  It now operated bases in 13 areas on both sides and was ready to engage, but it needed assurances concerning safety and security.  It had 700 monitors from 47 countries and aimed to expand further, with the hope of receiving more technical support such as drones and cameras.

The plight of people internally displaced by the conflict underlined the urgent need to resolve the crisis, he said, stressing the suffering of women, older persons and children attempting to cross the contact line.  The closure of the Luhansk checkpoints made it difficult for people to reach their workplaces.  The Special Monitoring Mission was working with the United Nations, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to ensure effective coordination of efforts on the ground.  Underlining the need for all signatories to the Minsk agreements to live up to their commitments, he said attacks against civilians and the Mission must end.   The Special Monitoring Mission must continue to work in accordance with its mandate to stabilize the situation in Ukraine.

MARTIN SAJDIK, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Group, said there had been 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, he continued.  In the humanitarian and economic spheres, there had been some progress in the release and transfer of detainees and the rehabilitation of infrastructure systems, but humanitarian access remained a challenge.  One aspect of the Minsk agreements awaited a full answer: the full restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, he said.  Nothing that many issues covered by the Minsk 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.

Statements

VADYM PRYSTAIKO, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Chief of Staff in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, said more than 300,000 Ukrainians had been victims of hostilities in Donbas, with 10,000 killed and 21,000 wounded.  More than 1.7 million had been displaced.  Just today, three civilians had been killed and seven wounded.  Indigenous Crimean Tatars were suffering greatly, he said, calling on the Council to demand that the Russian Federation restore their rights, end the ban on local Mejlis structures and “just get off our land in the Crimea and the east of Ukraine”.  Russian aggression against Ukraine must not become yet another item on the Security Council’s agenda that was regularly debated with no tangible progress.

“The security situation in the country is not improving and the Minsk agreement is not being implemented,” he continued, pointing out that the situation along the line of contact had deteriorated since the ceasefire agreement.  This week alone, the OSCE Mission had reported about 500 ceasefire violations by illegal armed groups and intense fighting not seen since August 2014.  The Russian Federation’s proxies in Donbas still heavily impeded the OSCE Mission’s access and ability to verify compliance with the ceasefire and with the prohibitions against heavy weaponry in areas under its control.  The proxies were in clear violation of the September 2014 Minsk agreements.  He said he was extremely concerned that illegal armed groups continued to shell Ukrainian military and civilian sites, particularly in areas agreed for demining.  The restoration of damaged economic and social infrastructure, including water pipelines, could only occur after a de-escalation of the security situation and assurances that personal safety would be guaranteed.

He said that he remained deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation on the ground due to the unwillingness of the illegal armed groups in Donbas to unblock access for relief agencies.  After months of negotiations, 120 Ukrainians remained in captivity in that area, and Ukraine was carefully collecting evidence of crimes against humanity there.  The Russian Federation had organized and deployed in Donbas a 34,000-strong hybrid military force comprising its own regular troops as well as foreign and local militants, he said.  Russian generals and military officers provided direct command and control, while Russian proxies ruined the socioeconomic infrastructure of Donbas, once Ukraine’s industrial powerhouse.  Ukraine had lost more than 20 per cent of its gross domestic product due to Russian aggression.

“We are totally committed to the political settlement,” he said, pointing out that Ukrainian experts had travelled to Minsk more than 30 times to seek clarification.  With elections essential to the peace process, better security was needed on the ground to kick-start them.  In that regard, President Petro Poroshenko had recently proposed deploying a police mission in Donbas, he recalled, urging the international community to engage constructively in the practical implementation of that proposal.  On human rights, he noted that at least 11 Ukrainians were held as political prisoners in the Russian Federation, including parliamentarians and native Crimeans.  Ukraine had approved the “Savchenko-Sentsov” sanctions list against individuals who had participated in the mock trials of Ukrainian political prisoners in the Russian Federation, and international partners should join the initiative, he said.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said that resolving the crisis in eastern Ukraine was a main objective for his country, which was working on mediation alongside Germany within the Normandy format.  Returning to Ukrainian control all of its internationally recognized territory, including Crimea, was the goal, he said.  France was very concerned about the worsening situation on the ground, including the growing number of ceasefire violations and the accompanying human toll.  There was no other option to the Minsk agreements, and defining a political horizon was the best way to ensure a stable security situation.  Together with Germany, France would keep working tirelessly within the Normandy format for full implementation of the Minsk agreements as soon as possible, he said, adding that it was vital to ensure safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to separatist-controlled areas.  He called on all Council members to “speak with one voice”, and for the Russian Federation to exert its influence over the separatists in order to improve the security situation, voicing hope that sufficient progress would be made in the coming days for a new Normandy-format ministerial meeting to be held as soon as possible.

MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) said that the word “ceasefire” was losing its meaning in eastern Ukraine, emphasizing that all sides had an obligation to uphold it and to protect the vulnerable.  The ceasefire was the bedrock of the Minsk agreements, he said, adding that much of the responsibility for violations fell squarely at the door of Russian-backed separatists.  Continuing support from the Russian Federation had sustained instability in eastern Ukraine, where humanitarian convoys crossed the border without inspection.  The Russian Federation’s influence could help to end the madness, he said, calling on that country to bring the separatists to heel, allow unhindered access for the Monitoring Mission and enable humanitarian organizations to enter separatist-held areas.  The human rights situation in Crimea was worsening, with the Tatar community particularly affected.  Through its actions in that enclave and its support for separatists there, “Russia has brought chaos to Ukraine”, he said, calling on that country to fulfil its Minsk commitments and enable Ukraine to regain control of its sovereign territory, which could happen only with a ceasefire in place.

SAMANTHA POWER (United States) noted that the violence had peaked since the September 2015 ceasefire, and the cycle of escalation must stop.  Monitors had been denied access, threatened and at times targeted themselves.  Separatists had been responsible for more than 90 incidents in which access had been denied to monitors of the Special Monitoring Mission.  “Why are OSCE monitors so scary that one needs to shoot up their car, cock guns at them and impede their movement?” she asked.  They must have full and unfettered access in order to monitor the ceasefire.  The Russian Federation must engage constructively and propose serious efforts for an election law in Luhansk and Donetsk, release all hostages and detained persons, and ultimately withdraw from Ukrainian territory, she stressed.

Pulling forces back was also crucial for improving the dire humanitarian situation, she continued, citing figures from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)indicating that an estimated 3.1 million people werr in need of humanitarian assistance..  Moscow should allow full access for aid and keep checkpoints leading into separatist-controlled territory open.  On Crimea, she noted that two years since the Russian Federation’s “sham” referendum, all forms of Tatar political expression had been deemed crimes.  The solution had not changed, she said.  “The crisis manufactured by Russia can and must be ended by Russia.”  The Minsk agreements offered the only pathway, and to implement them, the Russian Federation and the separatists it supported must abide by the ceasefire, she said.  The United States would keep sanctions in place as long as the Russian Federation continued its obstruction and its occupation of Crimea.

ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain) said it was disturbing that not only was the Russian Federation failing to respect the ceasefire, but violations were on the rise.  Nor was it adhering fully to security provisions established in the Minsk agreements.  He expressed concern over the lack of progress in demining and the humanitarian situation, taking note of the latest human rights report of the Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.  The lack of stability and minimal security conditions were grave obstacles and the status quo could only lead to more suffering.  The international community must step up efforts to support the Minsk process and the work of the Trilateral Contact Group.  The Minsk agreements remained the only valid framework for a political solution to the conflict, and it must be accompanied by real, active commitment, he emphasized, calling upon the Russian Federation to act in good faith and condemning the obstacles imposed on humanitarian actors.

MOTOHIDE YOSHIKAWA (Japan) called the Minsk agreements the answer to breaking the deadlock.  It was a matter of concern that the freedom of movement of the OSCE Monitoring Mission had been increasingly restricted.  Without constraints, it could do much more, he said, calling for the Mission to be given full and unfettered access throughout the conflict zone, including border areas.  The crisis could only be resolved through political means, in accordance with international law, he said, adding that Japan, as chair of the Group of Seven Ambassadors' Support Group for Ukraine, backed the country’s reform efforts.

GERARD VAN BOHEMEN (New Zealand) said that more than one year after the Council had endorsed measures to address the conflict in Ukraine, none had been fully implemented and some had been routinely violated.  Given the abundance of arms in the separatist-controlled areas, the deeply troubling situation risked further escalation.  Calling on all parties to honour their commitments and implement the agreements, he underlined the critical role played by OSCE in verifying the implementation of the measures.  Condemning recent aggressive acts against OSCE monitors, he said such actions must be repudiated by all sides.  Faster progress was needed on political aspects of the agreements, including on modalities for elections, and all sides needed to intensify efforts to ensure aid reached those in need.

RAMLAN BIN IBRAHIM (Malaysia) expressed deep concern over daily ceasefire violations, calling recent violence in eastern Ukraine and missing weapons from storage sites “alarming” signs of the direction in which parties were heading.  He urged them to cooperate fully with the Special Monitoring Mission, saying that any threats against OSCE personnel were unacceptable.  All parties must allow safe and unrestricted humanitarian access to those in need, with aid delivered in accordance with international humanitarian law and respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  All efforts must be made to stabilize the ceasefire and build trust, he said, urging both sides to redouble their efforts in that regard.

IHAB MOUSTAFA AWAD MOUSTAFA (Egypt) noted that resolution 2202 (2015) called on all parties in Ukraine to implement the Minsk agreements, particularly provisions relating to a ceasefire, the withdrawal of heavy weapons, the adoption of constitutional reforms and local elections in Donbas.  Deeply concerned about the meagre progress made so far, he urged all parties to comply fully with their Minsk commitments, engage in dialogue and work towards a peaceful solution that would fulfil the aspirations of the eastern region’s people.  Given the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Donbas, it was vital to ensure humanitarian access to all affected areas, he said, calling on all parties to exercise restraint.  Egypt would continue to support all efforts for a political resolution, he said.

ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) said the hostilities seemed to have intensified in recent months.  It was crucial to step up efforts and dialogue to ensure effective implementation of the Minsk agreements, which were the appropriate path to a settlement of the conflict.  Urging the parties to comply with their obligations and to protect human rights, he emphasized the crucial need to guarantee access for humanitarian organizations as well as the free and safe circulation of civilians across the line of contact.  It was also crucial that the Special Monitoring Mission have access to the entire conflict zone in order to fulfil its mandate.

ALFREDO FERNANDO TORO-CARNEVALI (Venezuela) supported the OSCE’s work to implement the Minsk agreements.  Military escalation and spreading of the conflict must be avoided.  That required international support and compliance with Council resolutions.  All parties must work together to achieve firm, lasting peace.  Dialogue based on direct negotiations and the political will of the parties was essential for success.  The existing sanctions were counterproductive and contrary to the achievement of peace and stability as they weakened confidence in the political dialogue.  Access must be granted to aid workers and supplies.  He rejected violence and political persecution, acts of terrorism — irrespective of the perpetrators — and called on all parties to work towards a lasting, just solution in the region.

JULIO HELDER MOURA LUCAS (Angola) said the cessation of hostilities must be reinstated in earnest.  He reiterated support for the Minsk agreements and to a permanent ceasefire as a prerequisite for speedy implementation of a peace agreement.  He expressed concern that heavy weapons permanently withdrawn from the front lines were being using by belligerents.  Safe, rapid unimpeded access must be given to aid organizations, and there needed to be an immediate cessation of hostilities and full withdrawal of heavy weapons.  Urging strict respect for international agreements, he reiterated support for the peaceful resolution of conflicts through dialogue and for respect for the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

GORGUI CISS (Senegal) expressed his delegation’s deep concern over the reported ceasefire violations, saying his country was committed to promoting dialogue and international cooperation as a means for resolving disputes.  It also supported the Minsk agreements as a solid basis for a credible and lasting solution.  The Special Monitoring Mission should enjoy unhindered access to all areas, thus ensuring effective implementation of the ceasefire, he said, urging the parties to renew their commitment to dialogue and a negotiated political solution.

VITALY I. CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said the events in Ukraine over the past two-and-a-half years had been provoked by an externally supported coup d’état.  The United Kingdom and the United States sought to attribute the crisis to the annexation of Crimea, but that enclave was stable by comparison to Donbas.  He said the Security Council had been used as a propaganda platform, adding that, in adopting resolution 2202 (2015), it had taken responsibility for a package of measures upon which it should remain focused.

The Russian Federation would observe the new Government in Kyiv closely, but it appeared that there were no serious contradictions between the President and the new Prime Minister, he said, adding that the latter did not intend to carry out reforms.  Citing information from the Special Monitoring Mission, he said the Ukrainian side was still using heavy weapons in Donbas, where civilians were suffering.  It was extremely important to implement the package of measures contained in the Minsk agreements, he said, emphasizing that that was the only way forward to ending the situation in Donbas and all related problems.  On Crimea, he said that was a domestic affair of the Russian Federation, and the Mejlis had been banned for its extremist activities.  Kyiv should concern itself with Donbas rather than the Tatars in Crimea, he added.

LIU JIEYI (China), Council President for April, spoke in his national capacity, noting the multiple consultations of the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group.  All parties must faithfully enforce the ceasefire and implement the Minsk agreement.  A long-term solution must fully accommodate the legitimate rights and interests of the parties.  He called on all parties concerned to maintain restraint and genuinely work towards a political settlement.  The international community should continue to support diplomatic efforts towards a political solution.

Mr. APAKAN, responding to the statements, said that implementation of the Minsk agreements was important and very much related to the ceasefire.  He hoped to achieve a ceasefire again in the coming days, which would create the space needed for de-escalation and demining, as well as lead to an opportunity to engage in ceasefire mediation on the frontline.  New support for the ceasefire and contact plan would also facilitate progress on the humanitarian, economic and political fronts.

Mr. ZERIHOUN, taking the floor again, said he understood the high expectations surrounding the current state of affairs of the work of the Trilateral Contact Group and the four working groups.   He would pass that message of expectation and the feeling of impatience to the Group’s meeting on Friday in Minsk.  There was hope that during that meeting once again a ceasefire would be re-established ahead of the Easter holidays and last beyond the holiday thus giving hope to the civilian population in eastern Ukraine.  He would do everything possible to facilitate implementation of the 12 February agreements.

The representative of the Russian Federation, taking the floor a second time, said it was not clear why the Ukrainian leadership had requested today’s meeting, adding that nothing constructive had been heard from that their side.  In the last 24 hours, the Russian delegation had circulated a draft Council press statement that Ukraine, without explanation, had found unacceptable.  That text, which no one could reject, would have the Council call once again for full implementation of the package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements and underline the need to speed up an investigation into the tragic events that had occurred in Odessa on 2 May 2014, when dozens of civilians had been killed and hundreds injured.  It would also have the Council underline the need to bring the perpetrators of that “reprehensible act” to justice, he added.

The representative of Ukraine also took the floor a second time, saying that the first part of that draft press statement was “okay”, but not the second part, which referred to an incident in his home city.  It would be necessary to investigate all cases, starting with Russian actions in Crimea and the deaths of many people in many Ukrainian cities, he said.  The draft press statement was not an honest attempt to bring the Odessa tragedy to the Council’s attention, he added.

The representative of the United States said in reference to the draft press statement that her delegation was ready to engage in a discussion with other Council members on a text that reflected a consensus view.  The situation in Ukraine was a result of Russian aggression and the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, she added.

The representative of the United Kingdom, reacting to the statement by the Russian Federation, said that in his counterpart’s comment on Crimea, he had called it a “stable peninsula”.  If that were the case, then the Russian Federation should grant access to assess the situation in Crimea.  The Russian Federation had grossly misinterpreted the words of the United Kingdom’s permanent representative when he said “no matter who fired the shells”.  The United Kingdom was not trying to express indifference.  It had phrased its words as a way to reinforce the need for commitment on all sides.  If the Russian Federation was truly committed to a solution, it could do much more to really understand what was going on in Crimea and by agreeing to consider a request for policing and by equipping the OSCE Mission to adequately monitor the border.  The Russian Federation was not engaging constructively.  There was no mention in the draft of the separatists.  Crimea was not mentioned.  The United Kingdom would be happy to engage on the draft, but press statements were agreed by consensus.

The representative of Spain said his delegation was ready to work on a text, however there did not seem to be enough consensus in the room to be able to adopt the press statement in its current form.  There was consensus on the first paragraph but not on the entire statement.  The Security Council must have a constructive attitude and any press statements issued had to favour de-escalation of the situation and support for the negotiations, all in good faith.  Any effort to the contrary could be counterproductive.

The representative of France said the draft press statement did not seem to cover the entire subject and needed more work before being adopted.

The representative of the Russian Federation, reacting to his Ukrainian colleague’s statement, said he was not indifferent to who did the shooting.  What the Russian Federation wanted was for those that did it to be punished.  He took issue with the statement by Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister regarding the recent tragic events in Odessa.  He also took issue with the statement by the representative of France, which took part in adopting the package of measures, saying the representative wanted to draw attention away from the violence.

The representative of Ukraine said the original Minsk agreement referred to a special security area monitored by the OSCE.

The representative of the Russian Federation said, also regarding Minsk, that there had been several documents, including a package of measures that needed to be respected.

The representative of Ukraine reminded the Russian Federation of the agreements of 21 February 2014.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that those who had signed the agreement should have insisted that it be respected.

The representative of China proposed that the discussion continue among relevant Council members.  He then adjourned the meeting.

For information media. Not an official record.