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GA/12403
23 February 2022
Seventy-sixth Session, 58th & 59th Meetings (AM & PM)

Minsk Accords Have Been in ‘Intensive Care’, Secretary-General Notes, as General Assembly Discusses Eastern Ukraine Developments

Speakers Deplore Russian Federation’s Military Deployment into Donetsk, Luhansk

The General Assembly discussed recent developments in eastern Ukraine today, with the top United Nations official declaring that the Russian Federation has punctured the inviolability of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by its formal acknowledgement of the independence of the latter’s territories of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Secretary-General António Guterres said that the Minsk agreements — a set of international accords that aim to end the war in Ukraine’s Donbas region — have been “surviving in an intensive care unit thanks to a number of life-supporting devices” until the recognition by the Russian Federation of the “so-called independence” of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, in violation of that State’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  He urged a return to dialogue and negotiation in pursuit of a peaceful resolution of the dispute, pledging that the United Nations will continue its humanitarian and human rights work to help all those residing within Ukraine’s borders, “independent of whoever might control the territory where people are living”.

Abdulla Shahid (Maldives), President of the General Assembly, recalled the words of former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, reminding delegates:  “The United Nations was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell”.  The Organization’s mandate stipulates that disputes between Member States must be settled by peaceful means and in accordance with international law, he emphasized.

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, issued a stark warning:  “Russia will not stop at Ukraine.”  He went on to point out that President Vladimir Putin has “outright denied Ukraine’s right to exist”, even as he recognized the independence of its Donetsk and Luhansk territories.  Evoking the long shadow cast by the Second World War, he warned that the current moment represents the largest security crisis since that time.  As Russian tanks roll into eastern Ukraine, “there is no more important task today than to not repeat the mistakes of the past”, he stressed.

He went on to state that President Putin wishes to prove that the United Nations is indecisive and unable to defend its core principles.  The global community should respond with “concrete actions to stop the Russian machine of war without stepping into a bloody conflict with many thousands of casualties”, he said, emphasizing that time remains for diplomacy to prevail.  However, “Ukraine will not hesitate to exercise its right to self-defence” in countering armed attacks by the Russian Federation, he reaffirmed.

The Russian Federation’s delegate said that since the “failed Maidan coup” of 2014, Ukraine has conducted a “hate-filled policy against its own citizens”.  Despite Russian efforts for negotiations in Security Council meetings and other international arenas, Ukraine has avoided dialogue with the Donbas region and ignored the interests of broad swathes of the population, he said, adding that it has also sabotaged calls by Member States for an inclusive dialogue.

He went on to state that while the people of Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk have declared their independence, Ukraine has no plans for dialogue on the matter, and instead carries out bloody military adventures while waging war on the Russian language as part of a deliberate State policy of “linguistic inquisition”.  After eight years of economic, transport and food embargoes on the Donbas, the Russian Federation has decided that the region’s people can consider themselves independent, he declared, adding that his country, through its armed forces, will seek to ensure that the ceasefire there will be monitored.

Syria’s representative, referring to the subject’s inclusion on the Assembly’s agenda, noted that the Charter of the United Nations decrees that the Assembly must not make any recommendation on a matter while it is under consideration by the Security Council.  He went on to state that the Ukraine crisis has been manufactured by Western States, masterminded by the United States with the aim of undercutting the Russian Federation.

China’s delegate said that, while Beijing’s position on sovereignty and territorial integrity remains constant, the situation in Ukraine “is tangled in a historical web”.  As a result, all parties should engage in dialogue and seek solutions through peaceful means, he added.

Numerous speakers insisted that the principles of international law and the United Nations Charter be upheld, decrying the Russian Federation’s aggressive stance and proposing the concrete steps — including sanctions — needed to encourage diplomacy and deter further aggression.

Tariq Ahmad, the United Kingdom’s Minister for South Asia, North Africa, the United Nations and the Commonwealth at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, highlighted the steps that his country’s Government has taken to stop President Putin’s expansionist ambitions.  The sanctions already enacted against the Russian Federation are “just the start”, he emphasized, adding that more measures have been prepared and are “ready to go”.

Tobias Lindner, Germany’s Minister of State in the Federal Foreign Office, recognized the existential threat — as well as the threat to the rules-based international order — posed by the words of the President of a United Nations Member State calling into question the statehood of a fellow Member State.  He said that since 2014, Germany and France have been working towards implementation of the Minsk agreements and remain willing to continue that effort for European peace and security.

The representative of the United States expressed her consternation that President Putin has asked the world to turn back a century and re-enter “an age of empires”.  Emphasizing that the world will not be going back to an era of empires, colonies, or even the Soviet Union, she declared:  “This is Putin’s war of choice.”  The fruits of his decision will be seen in the actions taken by the United States and its allies to deter further aggression.

Canada’s delegate quoted from Article 2 of the United Nations Charter:  “The Organization is based on the principles of the sovereign equality of all its members.”  In other words, he said, “there is no back of the bus at the United Nations” and no nation is more, or less, entitled to its sovereignty than any other.  He went on to criticize Moscow’s use of the word “peacekeeping” to define the role of its troops in eastern Ukraine.

Lithuania’s representative echoed that sentiment on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, saying the Russian Federation’s designation of “peacekeepers” to describe its forces in Donetsk and Luhansk is a perversion of the concept.  He also condemned Moscow’s accelerated issuance of Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens in Crimea and their forced conscription into the Russian Armed Forces.  That points towards a deliberate policy of accelerating systemic demographic change, he noted.

Georgia’s delegate said the current military aggression against Ukraine mirrors his own country’s experience.  “We are seeing the very same playbook in action in Ukraine,” he warned, recalling that Russian forces occupied the regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali in 2008.  Moscow then recognized them as sovereign entities, leading to their annexation.  What the Russian Federation is exhibiting is a pattern of behaviour that undermines the entire international rules-based order, he pointed out, emphasizing that the international community does not recognize the Russian-occupied regions of Georgia and nor will it accept Moscow’s recognition of Ukraine’s territories.

Turkey’s representative struck a similar tone, noting that the Russian Federation’s acts of aggression struck close to home.  “We do not need, nor do we want, a new war in our region,” he emphasized.  As a neighbour to both States, Turkey is more than ready to help them return to the negotiating table without delay and is willing to host any technical or high-level meetings that may be needed, he said.

Also speaking were representatives of Japan, Costa Rica, Mexico, France, Albania, Saudi Arabia (for the Gulf Cooperation Council), Liechtenstein, Poland, Croatia, Netherlands, Switzerland, New Zealand, Italy, Czech Republic, Australia, Republic of Moldova, Chile, Romania, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Paraguay, Palau, San Marino, Guatemala, Uruguay, Peru, Hungary, Liberia, Ecuador, Slovakia, Austria, Republic of Korea, Brazil, Belgium, Colombia, Kenya, Slovenia, Singapore, Ireland, Malta, Luxembourg, Spain, Lebanon, Federated States of Micronesia, Greece, Libya, South Africa, Jordan, Marshall Islands, Egypt, Portugal, Azerbaijan, Argentina, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Samoa and Thailand.

Also speaking was the Head of the European Union Delegation.

The General Assembly will continue its debate on Monday 28 February.

Opening Remarks

ABDULLA SHAHID (Maldives), President of the General Assembly, noted that “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” are among the first very words of the Charter of the United Nations, the main motivation for creating the Organization, the founders of which had lived through the devastation of two world wars by 1945.  The United Nations, he added, holds as its mandate that disputes or situations in which peace may be broken shall be settled by peaceful means and in conformity with justice and the principles of international law, through political solutions, diminishing human suffering and the massive economic costs of conflicts and their aftermath by preventing conflicts in the first place.  Calling upon Member States to “deploy the tools that we have to resolve disputes”, he emphasized diplomacy, good offices and mediation to “give peace all the chance it deserves”.  Urging the parties to intensify negotiations and de-escalate the current trajectory through dialogue, he further quoted Dag Hammarskjöld, the former Secretary-General, who said 68 years ago that the United Nations “was not created to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell”.

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said one thing is clear in the present situation:  the Russian Federation’s decision to recognize the “so-called independence” of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions — and the follow-up — are violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  Further, it is inconsistent with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and with the Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation Among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, adopted by the General Assembly more than 50 years ago.  That Declaration — cited repeatedly by the International Court of Justice as international law — affirms that “the territorial integrity and political independence of the State are inviolable”.  Pointing out that the Minsk agreements were “surviving in an intensive care unit thanks to a number of life-support devices”, he said those devices have been disconnected.

He went on to express concern about preserving the integrity of peacekeeping, pointing out that United Nations peace operations require the host country’s consent. Against that backdrop, he called for a ceasefire and a return to dialogue and negotiation to save the people in Ukraine and beyond from the scourge of war.  He urged all parties to make full use of Article 33 of the Charter and its diverse instruments for the pacific settlement of disputes.  The United Nations system continues to support the people of Ukraine through human rights and humanitarian efforts, he said, adding that such operations are “independent of whoever might control the territory where people are living”.  He emphasized:  “Our humanitarian agencies are committed to staying and delivering to support the people in Ukraine.”  All sides should allow safe and unimpeded access, including in non-Government-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine, he stressed.  All parties must uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law, he added, while committing to support all efforts to resolve the crisis without further bloodshed.  “We cannot and will not relent in the search for a peaceful solution”, he said.

Statements

DMYTRO KULEBA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, emphasized the need for swift, concrete and resolute actions by the United Nations and the international community to match the threat posed by the Russian Federation’s aggression.  The international community is at a critical juncture, he said.  “There is no more important task today than to not repeat the mistakes of the past.”  He stressed the need to avert a catastrophe in Europe “that no nation will be able to sit out”.  Describing the current moment as “the largest security crisis in Europe since the Second World War”, he underlined that it was unliterally created by the Russian Federation.  That country’s accusations against Ukraine are absurd, as Ukraine has never planned and does not plan any military offensive in the Donbas region, he added, noting that President Vladimir Putin has “outright denied Ukraine’s right to exist”.  He warned against the new threat of “revanchist rule rising over Europe” as the Russian President recognized the independence of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions and ordered the deployment of Russian Federation armed forces in those areas.

Describing those actions as an attack on the United Nations and the core principles of international law, he said Moscow has also unilaterally withdrawn from the Minsk agreements.  Its tanks are rolling into eastern Ukraine.  “It is clear that President Putin will not stop by himself”, he asserted, cautioning that “this is a grim scenario that will throw us back to the darkest times of the twentieth century”.  He continued: “Russia will not stop at Ukraine,” warning that if a permanent member of the Security Council succeeds in breaking all the rules, others will be inspired by its actions.  President Putin is trying to prove that the United Nations is weak, indecisive and unable to defend its core principles.  Welcoming yesterday’s statement by the Secretary-General, he said “every hour of inaction now is a threat to the lives of Ukrainians”.  Kyiv expects a proportionate response by the international community, including “concrete actions to stop the Russian machine of war without stepping into a bloody conflict with many thousands of causalities”, he said, underlining that there is still an opportunity for diplomacy, even as the Russian Federation continues its escalations and provocations.

Under the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Vienna document, the troop build-up falls under “unusual military activities” that require explanation, he stated.  In addition, Moscow has filled the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov with at least 46 vessels and its activities amount to a near blockade of Ukrainian seaports, he noted.  The Russian Federation’s propaganda machine is in full swing, he added, rejecting allegations of Ukrainian military operations in Donbas.  He said that a “secret prison” in Donetsk remains inaccessible and functions as a “literal concentration camp in Europe in the twenty-first century”.  Hundreds of people have passed through the prison, with many subjected to forced labour and others to extrajudicial killings, he added.  The President of Ukraine has handed to the Secretary-General a list of more than 100 Ukrainians from Donbas and Crimea who have been unlawfully detained, with some transferred to the Russian Federation.  He called upon the Secretary-General to use his good offices to facilitate their immediate release.

Since 2014, the General Assembly has already adopted 11 resolutions reaffirming its commitment to Ukraine’s territorial integrity, he recalled.  In 1994, Ukraine denuclearized, giving up the world’s third largest arsenal.  It has no plans to regain them and expects the world to ensure its security with resolute actions, he said.  Some years ago, Ukraine proposed the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping mission on its territory, but the Security Council failed to take the necessary decisions in that regard, he recalled.  Ukraine proposes sanctions as well as keeping diplomatic channels open to deter the Russian Federation, he said.  The international community should “put out the fire at the centre of Europe”, he added, underscoring that whereas Ukrainians want peace and to resolve issues through diplomacy, they stand ready to protect their land.  “Ukraine will not hesitate to exercise its right to self-defence under Article 51” of the Charter of the United Nations in response to the armed attacks of the Russian Federation, he emphasized.  This is the last chance to do what Moscow does not expect the United Nations and its Member States to do, which is to act in order to stop aggression, he added.

TARIQ AHMAD, Minister for South Asia, North Africa, the United Nations and the Commonwealth at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom, expressing unwavering support for Ukraine, said the Russian Federation has chosen the path of confrontation over the path of dialogue.  At every step, Moscow has rebuffed offers of diplomacy and discarded its commitments, he said, emphasizing that the United Nations must respond and call on the Russian Federation to uphold the United Nations founding principles.  Peace must prevail, he stressed, adding that it is essential to meet the Russian Federation’s actions with a collective response.  Recalling the United Kingdom’s deep, unprecedented sanctions against the Russian Federation, he said “this is just the start”, adding that a further package of measures is “ready to go”.  Recalling the Russian Federation’s seizure of Crimea in 2014, he said the General Assembly had spoken out in support of the territorial integrity of all nations.  Today, the Russian Federation’s actions are a challenge to global peace and security, as well as the international order.  “We must stop President Putin’s expansionist ambitions,” he said, emphasizing that the international community — which stands with the people of Ukraine — must tell the Russian Federation to stop.

TOBIAS LINDNER Minister of State of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, said the President of a United Nations Member State has called into question the statehood of a fellow Member State, asking what that action means for a State’s right to exist and for the multilateral rules-based international order.  The Russian Federation’s decision to recognize the so-called independence of Donetsk and Luhansk violates the core principles of the United Nations Charter, he emphasized, echoing the Secretary-General to the effect that those principles “are not an à la carte menu”.  The Russian Federation’s irresponsible and provocative action comes at the time of a massive build-up on Ukraine’s borders and a disturbing flow of disinformation and false flag operations, he said, noting that the attack on Ukraine’s territorial integrity comes eight years after Moscow’s seizure of the Crimean Peninsula.  Commending Ukraine’s continued restraint in the face of aggression, he said that since 2014, France and Germany have been working towards implementation of the Minsk agreements and remain willing to chart a way forward to stability and security in Europe.  Calling for an immediate ceasefire in Donbas, he condemned the shelling of civilian infrastructure.  He urged the Russian Federation to deescalate now, withdraw its forces from Ukraine, refrain from any action fuelling the risk of full-fledged military conflict, and repeal its decision to recognize the independence of the territories in question.

OLOF SKOOG, Head of the European Union Delegation, strongly condemned Moscow’s decision to recognize the independence of the non-Government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine and the ensuing decision to send Russian troops into these areas.  Noting that the Russian Federation is clearly violating the Minsk agreements, he said the European Union is responding with additional restrictive measures, including on all economic relations with the non-Government-controlled areas, as well as designations against individuals and entities responsible for undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity.  He called upon the Russian Federation to constructively engage in the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group.

Strongly condemning the recent increase of ceasefire violations as well as orders for mobilization issued by the de facto authorities in the non-Government-controlled areas of Ukraine, he expressed deep concern about the Russian Federation’s continued actions to obstruct the presence of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in those areas.  Calling upon Moscow to stop issuing Russian passports in large numbers to Ukrainian citizens in Luhansk and Donetsk, he further condemned the continuing deterioration of respect for human rights and international humanitarian law in those areas.  Noting that 2.9 million Ukrainians are still in need of humanitarian assistance as a result of the conflict, he called for unhindered and sustained access for humanitarian actors.

Turning to Crimea, he called upon all States to remain steadfast in their non-recognition of the Russian Federation’s illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol.  Welcoming Ukraine’s efforts to continue to seek justice through international legal instruments and courts — including the European Court of Human Rights, in arbitration courts and the International Court of Justice, among others — he pointed out that the ongoing militarization of the Crimean peninsula has a negative impact on the security situation in the Black Sea region and beyond.  Residents face systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as the rights to freedom of expression, religion or belief, association, and to peaceful assembly, he said.  The European Union reaffirms its commitment to further support Ukraine’s resilience, including in countering cyber and hybrid threats and in tackling disinformation, he pledged.

RYTIS PAULAUSKAS (Lithuania), speaking on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries, called on the Russian Federation to reverse its illegal actions, as they undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence and constitute a severe breach of international law and agreements, including the United Nations Charter, Helsinki Final Act, Paris Charter and Budapest Memorandum.  Russian forces in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine would be nothing other than an invasion of a sovereign State, he said, adding that calling them peacekeepers is a perversion of the concept of peacekeeping.  Non-adherence to international law and its fundamental principles undermines the rules-based international order and effective multilateralism, he stressed, adding that the Nordic and Baltic countries stand in full solidarity with Ukraine.

Recalling that the conflict instigated by the Russian Federation has resulted in around 14,000 deaths, 1.5 million people displaced, countless damages and suffering of those living on both sides of the contact line, he raised several concerns.  Among them are continued arbitrary detentions, along with Moscow’s efforts of de facto integration and systemic demographic change, including the accelerated issuance of Russian passports on a massive scale to Ukrainian citizens and its forced conscription to the Russian Armed Forces.  He urged Moscow to withdraw its forces and materiel from within Ukraine — including the Crimean Peninsula, non-Government-controlled areas of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts and border areas — to immediately stop fuelling the conflict, assume its responsibility as a party to the conflict, uphold its commitments, abide by international law and return to discussions within the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group.  He also called for the United Nations to continue efforts to restore respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said that if today’s agenda item is to reflect reality, it should be titled “the territories lost as a result of Ukraine’s hate-filled policy against its own citizens”.  Kyiv has waged such a policy since the “failed Maidan coup” in 2014 and, as soon as the current regime came into power with its Western backers, it has committed systematic violations of human rights.  Negotiation efforts by the Russian Federation in numerous Security Council meetings and other international fora have been in vain, as for eight years, Kyiv has bombed its own citizens, shirked direct dialogue with the Donbas region and displayed unwillingness to consider the interests of broad sections of the population.  He emphasized that, in any other crisis, Member States call for an inclusive dialogue between parties to conflict; without this, internal conflict cannot be resolved, and Ukraine has sabotaged such dialogue.  He went on to express regret that the Secretary-General has made certain statements regarding the situation in eastern Ukraine, which were not in line with his status or mandate under the Charter of the United Nations.

Questioning what good offices the Secretary-General could provide, he said the people of Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk have declared their independence.  The Maidan authorities had no plans for dialogue, and instead carried out two heinous, bloody military adventures that flouted the Minsk agreements.  Further, Ukraine has waged war on the Russian language as part of State policy conducting, among other actions, a “linguistic inquisition”.  For eight years, the people of the Donbas region have been subject to economic, transport and food embargos, the elderly and children were forced to hide from shelling and tens of thousands of refugees have fled into the Russian Federation.  Now convinced that the situation is hopeless, the Russian Federation decided that the people of the Donbas region can consider themselves independent.  He stressed that his country could not remain indifferent to the fate of these 4 million and warned that the ceasefire will be monitored by Russian armed forces.  For its part, the international community must ensure that Kyiv does not conduct a new military adventure, for which all of Ukraine might pay dearly.

ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan) noted that his country has consistently supported the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.  The Russian Federation’s decision to recognize the independence of certain regions in eastern Ukraine seriously undermines those very principles, in violation of international law.  Strongly condemning these actions, he said Japan has announced sanctions, including the suspension of entry visa issuance and an asset freeze on the individuals concerned.  Stressing that tensions should be de-escalated by the withdrawal of Russian troops, he expressed solidarity with the people of Ukraine.  Japan has made its own diplomatic efforts for a peaceful solution, he said, expressing support for efforts by all countries to find a serious diplomatic solution to the crisis.  “Unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion are unacceptable, regardless of where they occur,” he stressed.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) noted that, on 21 February, President Vladimir Putin declared his recognition of independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.  He then ordered military forces, under the guise of peacekeeping, to enter these regions — actions which the Secretary-General warned are a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations.  In an emergency meeting the same day, all but one member of the Security Council called for diplomacy and dialogue, which can only take place if the Russian Federation abandons its aggression.  Instead, it has responded with disinformation, cyberattacks and a “false flag pretext” for its build-up of nearly 150,000 troops near Ukraine’s border.  The Russian Federation is the aggressor. “History tells us that looking the other way is the more costly path”, she said. 

Just this week, leaders in Moscow claimed that Ukraine is not a real country and questioned its right to exist, she continued.  On 21 February, President Putin asked the world to travel back in time more than 100 years to “an age of empires”, asserting that the Russian Federation can recolonize its neighbours.  In fact, the world will not return to an age of empires and colonies — or to the Soviet Union.  The world has moved on and must now ensure, as the representative of Kenya reminded the Security Council, that “the embers of dead empires” do not ignite new forms of oppression and violence.  Ordinary Russians should ask how many of their lives President Putin is willing to sacrifice to fulfil his ambitions, which could also create a new refugee crisis, with as many as 5 million people displaced.  Recalling that Ukraine is a leading supplier of wheat, she said Moscow’s actions could increase hunger in places such as Yemen and Libya.  Together with partners and allies, the United States President has taken decisive action to make the cost of Mr. Putin’s actions crystal clear.  “This is Putin’s war of choice”, she stressed.  If he chooses to escalate further, the Russian Federation will bear full responsibility for what is to come.  “Former empires cannot lay claim to sovereign nations”, she said, urging the international community to show Moscow that it is isolated and alone in its aggressive actions.

KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia), associating himself with the European Union, said the international community will never accept the Russian Federation’s “recognition” of Ukraine’s territories — as is the case with the Russian-occupied regions of Georgia.  Today, another wave of the Russian Federation’s military aggression against Ukraine is well under way, aimed at redrawing sovereign borders.  The security repercussions will go far beyond Ukraine, he said, recalling that current aggressions are repeating the same pattern of Moscow’s illegal actions against Georgia.  That situation began with inciting and backing up puppet regimes in the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, leading to a full-scale military aggression in 2008, their illegal occupation and to the Russian Federation’s recognition of the occupied territories as sovereign entities, creating a launch pad for their factual annexation.  A “creeping annexation” continues today, he warned, adding that:  “We are seeing the very same playbook in action in Ukraine.”  This pattern of behaviour brazenly undermines the entire international rules-based order, poses grave threats to regional and global peace and security and is inconsistent with the way responsible States should act in the twenty-first century.  Silence and acquiescence to land-grabbing today is tantamount to a crime.  Instead, the international community must be united in defending the global rules-based system, the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris for a New Europe.  He called on the Russian Federation to reverse its illegal “recognition”, immediately withdraw its military forces from Ukraine and its borders and abide by international law, as well as to do the same in the occupied Georgian regions.

FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey), recalling that the international community supports Ukraine, said this new act of aggression by the Russian Federation is unacceptable.  Rejecting Moscow’s illegal actions, he said:  “We do not need, nor do we want, a new war in our region.”  Calling on the Russian Federation to reverse its actions, he urged parties to launch negotiations without delay, adding that as a neighbour to both, Turkey remains ready to facilitate this process and host technical and/or high-level meetings.  Welcoming President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s proposal for a meeting among the “P5” — five permanent Security Council members (China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, United States) — along with Turkey, Germany and Ukraine, he said the global community now faces a threat to international peace and security.  “Make no mistake,” he warned.  “We all need a rules-based international order.”

RODRIGO A. CARAZO (Costa Rica) said collective security — to be legitimate — must respect international law, and compliance with the Charter is mandatory, even for the largest nations.  Indeed, the “P5” States have “more obligations to international law” than others.  Noting that the Budapest Memorandum saw nuclear-weapon States committing to respect Ukraine’s borders, he said the current actions violate the global non-proliferation regime.  A State is only as strong as its word, he said, adding that all diplomatic avenues must be exhausted to avoid the potentially devastating humanitarian consequences of an armed conflict.  Expressing regret that human rights defenders, minorities, journalists and others have been forced to flee, he said there is no freedom or plurality when there is censorship.  Also, emerging threats stemming from new technologies must be addressed, including around the use of artificial intelligence and cyberattacks.  Peace will not be sustainable unless it is inclusive, he said, emphasizing that the United Nations must be a place where dialogue prevails and where no one feels the need to pick weapons up in the first place.

JUAN GÓMEZ ROBLEDO VERDUZCO (Mexico), echoing calls on parties to respect existing agreements and principles, expressed hope that the Russian Federation’s recent statement to the Security Council — that it would not invade Ukraine — will be respected.  The unanimously adopted Security Council resolution 2202 (2015) outlines the path to resolve the situation in Ukraine, in addition to other tools and mechanisms the United Nations possesses.  Recalling Mexico’s recent proposal related to conflict resolution, he underlined the importance of de-escalation, diplomacy and dialogue.  Reiterating an appeal for the parties to ensure safe access for humanitarian actors to reach those in need, he said the current situation puts to the United Nations to a test.  “It is time for us to fulfil our mandate,” he affirmed.

NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France), associating himself with the European Union, condemned the Russian Federation’s unilateral recognition of the separatist regions of Ukraine and the deployment of its army as a violation of the latter’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and of the fundamental principles of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) and the Charter of Paris for a New Europe, the basis for the continent’s stability.  Expressing concern over the aspersions cast upon the very existence of the Ukrainian State by the highest Government officials of the Russian Federation, he called upon that State to review its decision and withdraw its troops to the internationally recognized borders.  He emphasized that France will take action against Russian banks and against those who trade with the separatist entities, explaining that this new stage presents a real threat to European security.  Condemning the use of heavy weaponry and the indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas as a strategy of destabilization, he called for unified international reaction and ongoing mobilization within the General Assembly.

FERIT HOXHA (Albania), associating himself with the European Union, cited the Russian Federation’s seizure of Crimea and its occupation of two other Ukrainian territories, stating:  “No other member of the Security Council has committed such blatant violations of commitments and treaties it has signed since the Second World War.”  The decision to recognize non-Government-controlled areas of Ukraine as independent entities makes a mockery of the rules that govern relations between sovereign States and puts to an end the Minsk agreements, he emphasized, pointing out that the Russian Federation committed to respect those accords just days ago in the Security Council.  The international community must stand by the Charter or yield to international bullying and the rule according to which “what is yours can be mine”, he said, stressing that the recent actions “should ring the alarm bell to every United Nations Member State”.  The Russian Federation must immediately de-escalate and prepare the ground for the peaceful settlement of the dispute through diplomacy.

MOHAMMED ABDULAZIZ H. ALATEEK (Saudi Arabia), speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, expressed support for international efforts to promote de-escalation, stability and political discussion in seeking a solution to the crisis.  The Gulf Cooperation Council supports international law and the United Nations Charter, he said, particularly those provisions concerning the peaceful settlement of disputes; the non-use of force or threat thereof; and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States.  He urged all concerned parties to demonstrate calm and seek a solution to the conflict through peaceful means to ensure that civilians are not forced to “pay the price of military escalation”.

CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) emphasized that today’s discussion concerns the international order itself — founded on the prohibition by the Charter of the United Nations of the threat or use of force against a State by another, and that such discussion is “of direct relevance to everyone in this room”.  Condemning the Russian Federation’s recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as the subsequent ordering of its armed forces into the sovereign territory of Ukraine, he said Liechtenstein supports the inviolability of the latter’s frontiers and its right to determine its own relationships with other States and membership in international organizations.  He called upon the Russian Federation to reverse its decisions.  Pointing out that Ukraine’s diversity — including a significant population of Russian speakers — is a strength, he stressed that seeking to use such diversity as a pretext for secession and annexation by force violates both the human rights of those who live there and parts of the Minsk agreements concerning local self-government.

ROBERT KEITH RAE (Canada) said it has been eight years since the Russian Federation invaded, occupied and annexed Crimea in a flagrant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  He recalled that in 1945, the Soviet Union was present at the drafting and adoption of the Organization’s foundational document, pointing out that the Russian Federation is a member of the Group of Friends of the Charter of the United Nations.  Drawing out a copy of the foundational treaty, he read part of Article 2 aloud, noting that “the Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its members”.  There are no second-class States and “there is no back of the bus at the United Nations”, he said, emphasizing that no nation is less sovereign than any other.  When the Russian Federation is told to de-escalate, it is not being asked to do a favour, it is being asked to do what it signed up to do, he continued, noting that in recent years, that country has continued to destabilize the security of Ukraine and the region.  Despite its lies and propaganda, “Russia must accept responsibility for the loss of human life, the destruction of the country and the chaos it has created”, he stressed.  Highlighting Moscow’s decision to move troops into Ukraine in what it terms peacekeeping, he said “anyone else who understands the meaning of language would call it war-making”.  Canada and others are united in the implementation of sanctions, he said, adding that more severe measures will follow.  “Russia with all its acolytes can contort and spin all they like”, but the pain and suffering caused are its responsibility.  It is never too late to stop and turn to diplomacy, he said.  “Ukraine is not a mistake”, he said, stressing:  “Ukraine is a sovereign nation.”  He added that this is not about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or the European Union, but the existence, and the right to existence, of a Member State of the United Nations.

KRZYSZTOF MARIA SZCZERSKI (Poland) said the Russian Federation is “openly questioning the right to statehood of a fellow Member State” and its recent actions have further compounded the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in non-Government-controlled territories of Crimea and eastern Ukraine.  Emphasizing that the international community is at the very brink of a major security crisis whose scale might be of unprecedented proportions, he called upon Member States to strongly condemn all acts of aggression and the continuing policies of fait accompli pursued by the Russian Federation.  “Having learned from our history, Poland stands with those who choose freedom over bondage, the rules of international law over brutal force, and peace over conflict,” he said, underscoring that its Government believes in the right of every State to pursue its own foreign policy, including the freedom to choose alliances and partnerships.  As the current Chairman-in-Office of OSCE, Poland has proposed to launch a new initiative called the Renewed European Security Dialogue, he added.

IVAN ŠIMONOVIĆ (Croatia), associating himself with the European Union, rejected the Russian Federation’s decision to recognize the self-proclaimed “republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk as a clear violation of international law.  Reiterating his country’s consistent and principled position of non-recognition of the illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol, he expressed Croatia’s continued concern about militarization of the Crimean Peninsula and further attempts to restrict freedom of navigation through the Kerch Strait, including to and from the Sea of Azov.  Croatia is also concerned about the evolving crisis in and around Ukraine, particularly the Russian Federation’s large-scale military build-up around Ukraine’s borders, including in Belarus and the occupied Crimea, he said.  The current deteriorating political and security situation threatens not only Ukraine’s stability and integrity, but also peace and security in Europe and the world, he emphasized, reiterating his delegation’s full support for the efforts of the Normandy format, the Trilateral Contact Group and OSCE, as well as other diplomatic initiatives and missions.  He also voiced deep concern about reports of serious violations as well as the continuous deterioration of human rights and the humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine and in Crimea.

YOKA BRANDT (Netherlands), associating herself with the European Union, said her delegation has already responded — in close coordination with partners — to the Russian Federation’s actions, and any further escalation will be met with a similarly firm response.  Calling on Moscow to revoke its illegal decisions, withdraw troops and engage in dialogue to find a diplomatic solution, she recalled that the current situation echoes the Russian Federation’s violation of international law in Ukraine in 2014.  Residents of the peninsula face systematic restrictions of fundamental freedoms, she said, urgently calling on the Russian Federation to respect human rights in the area and to allow full access for human rights monitors.  Turning to other concerns, she pointed to the ongoing criminal investigation involving Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 - shot down over eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014 — and called on all countries, including the Russian Federation, to fully cooperate, in line with Security Council resolution 2166 (2014).

PASCALE CHRISTINE BAERISWYL (Switzerland) called on the Russian Federation to respect its international obligations, reverse its actions, withdraw its troops and contribute to de-escalation.  Reiterating Switzerland’s support for Ukraine, he said OSCE and its Special Monitoring Mission must be able to fulfil their mandates.  Calling for a diplomatic and political resolution of the conflict, he noted that, for eight years, civilians affected by the violence have seen their legitimate hopes for a more secure and peaceful future dashed.  “It is high time for this to change,” he said, stressing that “violence breeds violence”.  It is never a solution.  Conflicts must be resolved through diplomatic means, with the path of dialogue always remaining open.

ZHANG JUN (China) said his delegation’s position remains unchanged with regard to safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States.  The situation Ukraine, however, is tangled in a historical web.  In the current context, all parties should exercise restraint, implement the principles of engaging in dialogue and seek responsible solutions through peaceful means, he said, welcoming all efforts aimed at facilitating a diplomatic solution.

CAROLYN JANE WEATHERALL SCHWALGER (New Zealand) said Moscow’s recognition of the self-proclaimed “republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk has no basis in international law.  She expressed concern that this recognition and the deployment of Russian troops into those areas is a calculated act to create a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine.  Echoing the Secretary-General’s concern about the perversion of the concept of peacekeeping, she emphasized that “when troops of one country enter the territory of another country without its consent, they are not peacekeepers at all”.  Expressing deep concern about the increase in ceasefire violations and civilian casualties in the Donbas conflict zones, as well as human rights violations in Luhansk, Donetsk and Crimea, she encouraged the Russian Federation to return to the Normandy format.  Its attempts to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity represent one of the most significant risks to international peace and international security in decades, she stressed, adding that the impact of a conflict will not be confined to Europe.

STEFANO STEFANILE (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, condemned the violations of Ukraine’s democratic sovereignty and territorial integrity.  Noting that the European Union has already responded with restrictive measures, including on economic relations and trade with non-Government-controlled areas, as well as through asset freezes on some banks, sovereign debt and individuals involved in undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty, he reaffirmed Italy’s non-recognition of the illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.  He called on the Russian Federation to de-escalate tensions, withdraw military forces and return to dialogue through the United States-Russia Strategic Stability Dialogue, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-Russia Council and OSCE.  After eight years of conflict, the status of the civilian Ukrainian population is more urgent than ever, he said, pressing the international community to provide unhindered assistance and preserve the economic stability of the country, for which Italy is providing €110 million in aid and grants.

JAKUB KULHÁNEK (Czech Republic), associating himself with the European Union, said he is “gravely worried” about the Russian Federation’s aggressive actions and threats towards Ukraine, including its unprecedented and large-scale military build-up near the border.  Since its illegal occupation and annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, the Russian Federation has continued to destabilize the situation in eastern Ukraine.  He strongly condemned Moscow’s decision to recognize the independence of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics”, followed by the entry of Russian troops into Ukraine’s territory.  These steps, together with statements by the highest officials, raise “a reasonable concern that the Russian Federation is actively planning an armed aggression against Ukraine”.  De-escalation, negotiations and dialogue, rather than massive military build-ups, are the only acceptable approach.  Continuous and systematic violations of human rights and humanitarian law in non-Government-controlled areas of Donbas and in illegally annexed Crimea are of gravest concern, he said, calling for an independent, impartial and effective investigation into all credible reports on the use of arbitrary detentions, enforced abductions and politically motivated prosecutions.  In that context, he expressed deep concern about the health of Crimean political prisoners Halyna Dovhopola, Dzhemil Gafarov, Server Gaziev, Zekirja Muratov, Amet Suleymanov and Enver Omerov.

MITCHELL FIFIELD (Australia) condemned the Russian Federation’s recognition of the separatist entities in the Donbas as a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  Affirming that channels remain open for the Russian Federation to return to diplomatic dialogue, he called upon that country to uphold the core principles of the Charter.  Noting that Australia’s Prime Minister spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart yesterday, he said the Government has announced sanctions against Russian individuals and organizations to exert acute costs and stands ready to take additional steps in concert with close partners if that State continues its present course.

GHEORGHE LEUCĂ (Republic of Moldova) said his country does not recognize the Russian Federation’s illegal annexation of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol.  He condemned that country’s so-called “recognition of independence” of the separatist entities of Donetsk and Luhansk as a serious breach of international law which calls into question all prospects of a negotiated political solution.  Reiterating his delegation’s support for the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, he called on Moscow to reverse its unilateral recognition, de-escalate and return to the path of diplomacy.  In a region fraught with insecurity and instability, “where norms of behaviour are falling like dominoes”, the international community cannot allow historical grievances, revisionist policies and undisguised use of force to become the new normal, he warned.

MILENKO ESTEBAN SKOKNIC TAPIA (Chile) said his country’s foreign policy is based on the principles enshrined in Article 2 of the Charter:  refraining from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State; settling international disputes through peaceful means; and fulfilling obligations in good faith.  He called for continuing efforts towards dialogue and understanding to implement the Minsk agreements, signed seven years ago, while also spotlighting OSCE’s work on the ground to ensure the population’s peace and security.  He went on to underscore that, whatever security concerns might be present, “nothing can justify” a breach of Article 2, and such issues must be dealt with through dialogue and consultation among the stakeholders.

ION JINGA (Romania), associating himself with the European Union, condemned the Russian Federation’s recognition of the so-called independence of Donetsk and Luhansk — which are integral parts of Ukraine — as well as Moscow’s illegal decision to send troops into those areas.  He called upon the international community to provide a firm, unequivocal reaction to those events, and upon the Russian Federation to abide by international law, immediately reverse its actions, de-escalate and engage constructively in dialogue.  As a permanent member of the Security Council, the Russian Federation has a distinct responsibility to promote international peace and security, he emphasized, while pointing out that its actions have deliberately threatened the same in violation of resolution 2202 (2015).  Stressing that full implementation of the Minsk agreements is the only way forward, he expressed concern over the build-up of troops along the Ukrainian border, as well as in Belarus, the Black and Azov Seas and the illegally occupied Crimean Peninsula.  He went on to reaffirm his delegation’s commitment to Ukraine’s European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

LACHEZARA STOEVA (Bulgaria), associating herself with the European Union, strongly condemned Moscow’s decision to recognize the “independence” of the Donetsk and Luhansk “republics” and to send Russian troops into those regions.  Emphasizing that those actions “represent an illegal and dangerous attempt to redraw the post-cold war boundaries in Europe”, he called upon the Russian Federation to reverse the decision and its military build-up in and around Ukraine.  She expressed concern about the humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine, calling for full, free and unhindered access for the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission and other international mechanisms.  She went on to reaffirm her country’s non-recognition of the Russian Federation’s illegal annexation of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol.  Expressing deep concern about the ongoing human right violations and abuses in Crimea, she called for the immediate release of all illegally detained Ukrainian citizens.  Also concerned about Moscow’s ongoing militarization of the peninsula, she predicted it would have a severe negative impact on the security situation in the wilder Black Sea region.  She called upon the Russian Federation to refrain from any action that impedes the freedom of passage and navigation in contravention of international law.

DRAGANA ŠĆEPANOVIĆ (Montenegro), associating herself with the European Union, expressed grave concern about Moscow’s military build-up on Ukraine’s borders, including in illegally annexed Crimea, Belarus and on the Black Sea.  The reported recent indiscriminate shelling of civilian infrastructure and ceasefire violations along the line of contact are alarming, she said.  Calling upon the Russian Federation to reverse the military build-up and withdraw its forces from Ukraine, she emphasized:  “The current rhetoric of threats must stop, and a solution must be sought through diplomatic channels.”  She also pointed out that nearly 2.9 million people in Ukraine are in need of assistance.  She warned that alarming developments in and around Ukraine are endangering the European security architecture and posing a clear and present threat to peace and security in the region and beyond.  Montenegro upholds the European security order by respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of every country, acknowledging the inherent right of each to freely choose its own security arrangements, and refraining from the threat or use of force, she affirmed.

BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria) described the inclusion of the current item on the Assembly’s agenda as a unilateral measure that is irresponsible and politicized.  It reflects the desire of certain Western Governments to apply pressure on the Russian Federation at the expense of regional security, he said.  The continued consideration of the item is in violation of Article 12 of the United Nations Charter, as the General Assembly must not make any recommendation on a matter under consideration by the Security Council, he added.  The lack of political will on Ukraine’s part, as well as interference by Western nations and NATO under the pretext of concern, has prevented implementation of the Minsk agreements, he noted, emphasizing that the repeated proposals of the Russian Federation deserve serious consideration.  Unilateral coercive measures imposed by the United States and others will only complicate the situation, he cautioned.  On Crimea, he said that his delegation’s position is based on the referendum of March 2014, in which more than 82 per cent of voters expressed their will to remain part of the Russian Federation.  The hostile campaigns targeting that country prove that the Ukraine crisis was created by Western States and led by the United States to undermine the Russian Federation, he asserted, applauding the high level of Moscow’s self-restraint in the face of such provocation.

JULIO CÉSAR ARRIOLA RAMÍREZ (Paraguay) said Ukraine and the Russian Federation are kindred countries and expressed hope that they can resolve the current situation.  Indeed, the Organization’s founding nations agreed to refrain from the use of force to settle disputes, and new mechanisms are now available to prevent conflict, he noted.  Describing the situation in Ukraine as a grave concern, he called upon the parties to pursue a peaceful, negotiated solution, emphasizing that there is no other path.  The Security Council must play its role and carry out its mandate, using all available tools to do so, he added.

ILANA VICTORYA SEID (Palau) said the Charter and subsequent treaties are sacred to her country.  As a former colony, Palau believes decolonized States must be bristling at the thought of a large country wielding force, she noted, cautioning that a forcible redrawing of Europe’s borders will mean many lost lives and much destruction.  Condemning the Russian Federation’s actions, which are in violation of Charter principles and existing agreements, she said de-escalation, dialogue and the rule of law must guide parties towards peace.  Meanwhile, Member States must constantly and consistently reaffirm agreed ideals, she said, adding:  “Let us not forget that our work is not done.”

NATASCIA BARTOLINI (San Marino) expressed deep concern about the ongoing crisis, the militarization in and around Ukraine, and the risk of a military conflict in Europe.  Emphasizing the importance of negotiations, she called upon all parties to fully respect international law and the Charter.  San Marino firmly supports international efforts to promote political solutions to the crisis, including through the Normandy format and of the Trilateral Contact Group, to ensure implementation of the Minsk agreements, she said.  Also concerned about the large number of civilians in need of humanitarian assistance, she called on all parties to guarantee safe and unimpeded access to humanitarian actors.  Civilians must be protected, she stressed, also pointing out the devastating impact of increased hostilities on peace, justice and stability beyond the region.  While expressing concern about Moscow’s decision regarding the status of Donetsk and Luhansk, she called upon all parties to respect the ceasefire and to avoid provocative actions.

LUIS ANTONIO LAM PADILLA (Guatemala), emphasizing that all Member States have the responsibility and obligation to speak up for peace, condemned the Russian Federation’s unilateral recognition of the separatist so-called republics in violation of international law and Ukraine’s territorial integrity.  Calling for a diplomatic solution reached through dialogue and negotiations, he emphasized that it is crucial to prevent further escalation, particularly for the benefit and protection of the populations involved.

CARLOS AMORÍN (Uruguay) warned that the dizzying escalation of tensions following the Russian Federation’s recognition of the “independent” separatist territories of Ukraine can put regional stability at risk, emphasizing that Member States bear responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, rejection of the use of force and the peaceful settlement of disputes.  He affirmed that the main framework for reaching peace is respect for resolution 2202 (2015), which promotes implementation of the Minsk agreements.  In order to de-escalate, it is indispensable to restore confidence and diplomatic will from all parties, he said, cautioning:  “Confrontation is a war in which everybody loses even before it has begun, leaving a bitter aftertaste.”

JOSÉ MANUEL RODRÍGUEZ CUADROS (Peru) expressed concern over developments within Donetsk and Luhansk and on the eastern border between Ukraine and the Russian Federation.  It is imperative that all hostilities and ceasefire violations end — in accordance with the Minsk agreements — and that the parties involved make every effort to de-escalate, initiate a process of detente and work towards a negotiated solution.  He emphasized the urgent need to “use the means that diplomacy provides”, in this difficult, complex situation, to effect consultations that will lead to a peaceful, sustainable solution that accounts for the legitimate interests of the parties.

ZSUZSANNA HORVÁTH (Hungary), associating herself with the European Union, emphasized the importance of full respect for international law, international agreements and the basic principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, the Paris Charter and the Budapest Memorandum.  There were — and still are — multiple diplomatic tracks available that had, and still have, the ability to offer peaceful, diplomatic solutions, she said.  As a Central European country, Hungary is genuinely interested in East-West dialogue, she said, adding that it has not forgotten the experiences of the cold war.  A return to such practices must be avoided, she stressed, while calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities, protection of civilians and infrastructure, and diplomacy as a priority to address all issues in a peaceful manner.  Recalling Hungary’s bilateral support for Ukraine, she said her country will continue to contribute — in close consultation with Ukrainian authorities — towards strengthening the latter’s resilience.

CECILIA FORGBE MC GILL (Liberia) said his delegation’s position remains unchanged since 2014, when it urged the Russian Federation to defuse tensions and respect the rights of Ukraine.  Calling on the Russian Federation not to attack Ukraine, he urged Moscow to use diplomacy and dialogue to resolve its stated security concerns and to reverse its military build-up along the borders of Ukraine and in occupied Crimea.  Reaffirming Liberia’s commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and noting that Ukraine currently poses no threat to the Russian Federation, he said:  “In this twenty-first century, when our world body — the United Nations — is promoting peace and security, war is certainly not the answer; the path of dialogue and peace is most prudent.”  Therefore, adhering to the tenets of democracy is critical and should prevail so that the individual rights of nations are not infringed, he said, emphasizing that Ukraine’s sovereignty must be respected.

CRISTIAN ESPINOSA CAÑIZARES (Ecuador) said that today’s meeting should contribute to international peace and security as a higher goal, noting as well that his delegation found value in recent statements by Security Council members with no exception, as well as the statements of those who participated under rules 37 and 39 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.  The greater value is to be found in negotiation between the parties concerned in order to overcome tensions.  He called on the States involved, as well as the international community, to avoid narratives that exacerbate tensions.  He expressed support for the Secretary-General’s views and expressed trust in the good faith and will of the parties to make their best efforts.  If this prevails, greater peace for Europe and the world will be achieved.

MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), associating with the European Union, rejected the decision by the Russian Federation to recognize the independence of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk regions as a blatant violation of international law.  He agreed with the Secretary-General that the United Nations Charter principles are not “à la carte” and cannot be applied selectively.  The Russian Federation’s decision is a breach of its obligations under the Budapest Memorandum and the Minsk agreements, to which it is a party.  It is also an unacceptable contradiction to its declared interest in seeking a solution in relevant international fora through dialogue.  Slovakia supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbour and the universal validity of the principles of international law.  He condemned the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and noted the deterioration of human rights in that area.

ALEXANDER MARSCHIK (Austria), associating himself with the European Union, said this debate is about peace and war — the fundamental purpose of the United Nations.  As a neutral State, Austria’s security relies on respect for international law, and it cannot accept that borders are moved by force in the twenty-first century.  Every United Nations Member State agreed to Charter principles, which “keep us safe”, he said.  Calling on Moscow to de-escalate the situation, reverse the military build-up and engage in dialogue, he said “it is not too late to change course”.  This crisis, however, is beyond a regional concern; it is a global one.  If United Nations principles have any relevance, territorial integrity would be respected.  Asking if the situation now gives former colonial possessors the right to reclaim territory, he wondered:  “If we were in Ukraine’s shoes, what would we expect from the United Nations?”  For its part, Austria would expect a clear condemnation of violations of international law and calls to the Russian Federation to abide by agreed principles, he said.

CHO HYUN (Republic of Korea), echoing concerns that the Russian Federation is violating Charter principles and international law, called on Moscow to reverse its actions.  Security Council resolution 2202 (2015) must be fully implemented, he continued, adding that all States must settle disputes peacefully and refrain from the threat or use of force against any nation.  Where there is political will, there is a political solution, he said, urging parties to work towards peacefully resolving differences.  The humanitarian impact of the current crisis is also worrisome, he said, noting that the Republic of Korea will triple its aid assistance to Ukraine in 2022.

RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) said the situation in and around Ukraine has become critical, requiring the United Nations to engage promptly.  Noting that the primary objective must be to prevent war, he stressed the urgent need to de-escalate tensions and resort to meaningful dialogue between the parties involved.  Pointing out that there is still room to restore confidence and find a negotiated outcome, he drew attention to the pillars of the collective security system:  prohibition of the use of force and peaceful dispute resolution, along with the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-intervention and the protection of human rights.  A permanent solution to the crisis in Ukraine must consider the legitimate concerns of all parties within the framework of diplomatic talks, and according to parameters established by relevant Security Council resolutions, such as resolution 2202 (2015), and in the spirit of the Minsk agreements, he said, calling for an immediate ceasefire, with a comprehensive disengagement of troops and military equipment on the ground.

PHILIPPE KRIDELKA (Belgium), associating himself with the European Union, said what is at stake in the current crisis is the core principle undergirding the United Nations.  President Putin’s decision to recognize the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk and deploy troops flies in face of the international rules-based order and resolution 2202 (2015).  Such actions cannot be left without response, he said, calling for sanctions that are proportional and targeted, as well as guarantees for safe, unfettered humanitarian access in the conflict areas.  Condemning the illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, he added that what is transpiring in Ukraine concerns not just Europe but every Member State.

GUILLERMO ROQUE FERNANDEZ DE SOTO VALDERRAMA (Colombia) called on the Russian Federation to strictly adhere to international law, particularly concerning prohibition of the threat or use of force and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.  Ignoring those principles shatters the three pillars on which United Nations actions are based.  He urged all parties to immediately reopen dialogue and negotiations towards peaceful coexistence between States, citing resolution 2202 (2015) and the Minsk agreements as indispensable elements.  The international community cannot remain unmoved when events have the potential to destabilize the entire international system — causing human suffering and refugee crises, which are incipient and can affect global economic recovery.  Noting it will take at least a decade for the world to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, he called on the parties not to act with opportunism from which no nation will emerge unscathed.

NJAMBI KINYUNGU (Kenya) underscored the need to uphold the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all States, regardless of size, population, wealth or military might.  This is what stands between a peaceful global order and escalating, widening crisis.  Opposing the Russian Federation’s recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent States, she called for de-escalation to avoid military confrontation and for a return to diplomatic negotiation — the results of which must respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  She further condemned the trend of powerful States breaching international law with no regard, stressing that any hopes of realizing Our Common Agenda and other ambitious goals depend on multilateralism.  Noting that today’s discussion centres on the latest unilateral action of a State sitting on the Security Council, she called on all Member States to defend multilateralism, which must be rescued through collective determination.

BOŠTJAN MALOVRH (Slovenia), associating himself with the European Union, called on Moscow to respect the Charter principles, reverse its recent decisions, de-escalate the situation, ensure full transparency over its military activities, withdraw its military forces and engage in dialogue through established diplomatic means.  Welcoming all efforts to find a diplomatic solution and to revive the Normandy format, he said constructive engagement and dialogue must be pursued through established international mechanisms.  Free movement must be ensured for the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, he said, raising concerns about the dire humanitarian conditions in eastern Ukraine and human rights violations in the Crimean Peninsula.  Calling on the Russian Federation to uphold its international commitments and provide human rights observers with full access, and he said Slovenia will continue to work to alleviate the severe humanitarian situation.  As a demonstration of Slovenia’s political support for Ukraine, he said Prime Minister Janez Janša will be visiting the country on 24 February.

BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore) expressed concern over the escalation of tensions on the border of Ukraine and the Russian Federation and the latter’s decision to recognize two break-away Ukrainian territories.  Underscoring that Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity must be respected, he said the situation is a test of the international community’s collective commitment to the multilateral system based on the principles contained in the Charter and within international law.  As a small country, Singapore is committed to multilateralism, he noted, adding that it has always emphasized that all countries — big or small — must adhere to international law.  He called on all parties concerned to pursue dialogue, work towards a peaceful settlement of the dispute and avoid action that would further raise tensions in the region.

JIM KELLY (Ireland), expressing full support for the statement delivered by the European Union, reiterated his country’s commitment to the principles of the United Nations Charter, including the sovereign equality and territorial integrity of States and the obligation of all States to refrain from threatening, or using, force against another State.  Expressing support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders and its right to choose its own foreign and security policy path, he said the Russian Federation’s decision to recognize Donetsk and Luhansk as independent entities contravenes international law, is a blatant violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and marks a clear and unilateral breach of the Minsk agreements.  Ireland urges the Russian Federation to reverse that decision immediately, and to refrain from further escalatory, unilateral actions that serve only to further raise tensions, he said.  Recalling that this week the Russian Federation violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity for the second time in 10 years, he stated that Ireland does not recognize its illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol, nor any political structure created through the attempted annexation.  Ireland calls upon all sides to work urgently towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict through dialogue, he added.

ADAM KUYMIZAKIS (Malta), associating himself with the European Union, reiterated his country’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence within its internationally recognized borders.  Condemning the Russian Federation’s decision to formally recognize the “independence” of Donetsk and Luhansk, he declared:  “This decision is illegal and unacceptable, is a violation of international law and the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, violates Russia’s own international commitments and further escalates the crisis.”  Expressing concern about reported ceasefire violations and shelling reported at the contact line, he noted that the volatile security situation in eastern Ukraine has an immense impact on civilians.  Diplomacy and dialogue must prevail, he emphasized, calling for peaceful settlement of the conflict, in line with the Minsk agreements, as endorsed by Council resolution 2202 (2015).  He urged all parties to return to the negotiation table and avoid a dangerous escalation in Europe.

OLIVIER MAES (Luxembourg), associating himself with the European Union, said recent grim events constitute a test of the multilateral system.  He expressed steadfast support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, in line with relevant General Assembly resolutions.  He emphatically condemned the Russian Federation’s 21 February decision to recognize Donetsk and Luhansk as “independent” entities, saying it constitutes an egregious violation of international law and accords, including the United Nations Charter and the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (known as the Helsinki Final Act), among others.  Such actions fly in the face of diplomatic efforts undertaken in the Normandy format to resolve the situation through peaceful means, in line with Council resolution 2202 (2015) to implement the Minsk agreements, he noted.  Recalling Article II (4) of the United Nations Charter, he urgently called upon the Russian Federation to comply with international law and to resume discussions through both the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group.  Concerned that military escalation risks multiplying human rights violations and destabilizing eastern Ukraine, affecting the most vulnerable civilians, he called for an immediate ceasefire.

AGUSTÍN SANTOS MARAVER (Spain), associating with the European Union, said his country consistently defends international law, notably as related to the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of States.  Condemning the recent steps taken by the Russian Federation, which strike at the basic pillars of the international community, he recalled Spain’s commitment to the United Nations Charter and the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe/the Helsinki Final Act, which have been signed by the Russian Federation and are aimed at guaranteeing peace and integrity in Europe.  Noting that recent events in Donetsk and Luhansk raised tensions, he expressed concern about the violation of the ceasefire by armed groups, leading to many lives lost, and condemned the lack of respect for human rights in both regions.  Stating that 3.5 million people in Ukraine require humanitarian assistance due to the conflict, he said the Russian Federation’s recent actions to formally recognize the independence of the non-Government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk constitute a “manifest violation of the Minsk agreements, to which the Russian Federation is signatory”.  He called on Moscow to return to diplomacy under the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group, adding that OSCE efforts are important to achieve a dialogue-based solution.  Turning to Crimea, where the human rights situation is deeply concerning, he pressed the Russian Federation to allow unimpeded access to those monitoring human rights there.  Urgent steps must be taken to de-escalate tensions.

NIZAR KADDOUH (Lebanon), stating that today’s meeting takes place “as the world is looking into the abyss”, expressed concern about the escalation in Europe and what the Secretary-General described as the biggest peace and security crisis in recent years.  “Humanity is still battered by a cruel pandemic and the last thing we need is an additional threat of war,” he emphasized.  Pointing out that Lebanon has lived through occupation, wars and interventions, he called on all sides to stop the alarming slide towards conflict and instead choose the path of peace.  Recalling the tenets of the United Nations Charter, including the provision calling on all Members States to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, he underlined the need to prioritize diplomacy and a political solution to the conflict in Ukraine.  “The world today needs more peace — not a new war,” he stressed.

JEEM LIPPWE (Federated States of Micronesia) said that while some Member States may be located far from Ukraine, the current dangers in that country are not remote.  Members States — small and large, strong and weak — must respect the Charter.  Even though Micronesia is far away from the situation, it remains supportive of Ukraine and condemns acts of aggression by the Russian Federation.  Calling on Moscow to cease its actions, he reaffirmed support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, emphasizing that the parties must settle this dispute through diplomatic means.

MARIA THEOFILI (Greece), associating herself with the European Union, said the current situation requires urgent attention, with the United Nations Charter guiding the way.  Violations of international law are “threats for us all”, she said.  Calling on parties to abstain from any military action that may lead to bloodshed, she said the priority is to avert further escalation.  All channels of communication should remain open.  Noting that Greek communities in Ukraine have lived on both sides of the contact line for centuries, she said Greece’s Embassy and consulates have shown a resolve to remain present and engaged in the country.  Now is the time for all Governments and people to show responsibility and ensure that, in the twenty-first century, the world will not return to an era of violence.

ESSAM M. E. ELGHFFA (Libya) said the Government of National Unity rejects any military action by the Russian Federation against Ukraine.  Calling on Moscow to de-escalate the situation and withdraw from occupied Crimea, he reaffirmed Libya’s support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine.  At this critical moment, the United Nations is facing a test, and peaceful dialogue and resorting to diplomatic means remain the only way forward, he said.

MATHU JOYINI (South Africa) said if the current situation regarding Ukraine is allowed to further deteriorate, it will have regional and global ramifications.  The founding aspiration of the United Nations to live in harmony should guide all conduct between peoples of the international community, with respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States — while also mindful that their security interests must be considered.  “The door of diplomacy should never be closed”, she stressed, as all have much to gain from a negotiated conclusion, and much to lose from a violent conflict.  Welcoming the work of the Normandy format and OSCE, she recalled the Secretary-General’s comment that the price of human suffering to Europe and global security is “too high to contemplate”.

MAHMOUD DAIFALLAH HMOUD (Jordan) reiterated the importance that the United Nations and all stakeholders play a positive role in the current situation.  Expressing support for international law, he cited sovereignty and territorial integrity of States as the paramount principles for international relations.

AMATLAIN ELIZABETH KABUA (Marshall Islands), echoing the condemnation of the Russian Federation for its actions against Ukraine, said that whatever historical legacies of empire building may be claimed or intended, the international community has long since moved on under the Charter of the United Nations to recognize the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, and “we cannot slip backwards into a century ago”.  Expressing concern that small nations must have a fair voice in the face of threats and intimidation from larger Powers, as seen in the history of the Marshall Islands, he asked:  “if we do not speak up collectively then who will?”  It is up to the General Assembly to stand up to the spectre of tyranny, he stated, adding that “the United Nations risks irrelevance if we cannot take clear and meaningful action on this issue.”

The statement by OSAMA MAHMOUD ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt) could not be summarized because of a temporary broadcast interruption.

FRANCISCO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal), aligning himself with the European Union, condemned the Russian Federation’s decision to recognize the non-Government-controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine as independent entities.  He urged the former to reverse such recognition, uphold its commitments, abide by international law and engage constructively in dialogue.  He further condemned the continuous deterioration of respect for human rights and humanitarian law in these areas and expressed concern over the suffering of the 3.4 million Ukrainians still in need of humanitarian assistance.  Also reiterating Portugal’s condemnation of the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol — a blatant breach of international law — he encouraged those present to “bear in mind the potential consequences that the current path of escalation will bring to us all”.

YASHAR T. ALIYEV (Azerbaijan), calling for continued international and regional efforts towards de-escalation, stressed that the Charter of the United Nations constitutes the foundational framework of international relations.  It is critically important for the stability of the international legal system and is as relevant as ever for settling international disputes by peaceful means.  All States are bound by accepted norms and principles of international law, particularly those relating to State sovereignty and territorial integrity, inviolability of internationally recognized borders and non-interference in internal affairs.  He went on to emphasize that strict compliance with norms and principles concerning friendly relations and cooperation among States, along with those relating to fulfilling assumed obligations in good faith, are of greatest importance for the maintenance of international and regional peace and stability.

FABIÁN ODDONE (Argentina), expressing concern over the crisis in Ukraine, called for substantive progress to be made towards good faith dialogue in order to achieve a peaceful resolution.  All countries must continue to adhere to the principles that brought them together as Member States of the United Nations.  Urging a redoubling of efforts towards diplomatic rapprochement, he stressed that there is no military solution to this affair.  He called on all parties involved to resolve their differences through dialogue, refrain from the use of force and respect human rights, also adding his voice to the Secretary-General’s call for all parties to refrain from actions and attitudes that could cause this dangerous situation to spiral out of control.

POLLY IOANNOU (Cyprus), endorsing the statement by the European Union, underscored her country’s consistent commitment to the principles of international law enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.  No legal effects can be created by acts that do not conform with those principles.  Reiterating support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, she stressed that any actions that undermine these principles violate international law and the Minsk agreements, instruments which constitute the only way forward to resolve the crisis.  She further called on all parties to avoid further escalation and return to efforts to find a peaceful settlement.

JOSÉ ALFONSO BLANCO CONDE (Dominican Republic) reiterated his country’s commitment to the United Nations Charter, and to an international order guaranteeing peace, justice and development for all countries.  The ongoing crisis poses a severe threat to global peace, he said, adding that the Russian Federation’s unilateral recognition of the independence of the non-Government-controlled areas constituting an integral part of the territory of Ukraine, a Member State of the United Nations, violates three principles of international law, including that which obliges States to refrain from the threat or use of force.  Such actions have created conditions for the expansion of attacks in eastern Ukraine, with the potential to affect other countries and wreak chaos on global markets, including the electrical sector and the food supply chain.  He called for urgent action to be taken to avoid further conflict and pave the way for diplomatic negotiation, with the help of the Normandy format.  No parties must cross the contact line, he warned, calling on those involved to desist from interfering in the affairs of other States.

FATUMANAVA-O-UPOLU III PA'OLELEI LUTERU (Samoa) expressed great concern about the Russian Federation’s decision to invade parts of Ukraine, which violates Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and Article II of the United Nations Charter, especially amid a global pandemic which is still wreaking havoc.  He called for prioritizing diplomacy in efforts to defuse tensions in eastern Ukraine, urging the Russian Federation to respect the United Nations Charter, abide by international law, and to fully honour the Minsk agreements, as adopted by the Security Council in 2015.

SURIYA CHINDAWONGSE (Thailand), expressing support for a diplomatic solution, said his delegation agrees with the Secretary-General’s approach, which would see dialogue conducted in accordance with the Minsk agreements and other mechanisms, with a view to de-escalating the situation and finding a solution.  Turning to humanitarian concerns, he called on parties to refrain from the use of force and to ensure protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

For information media. Not an official record.