Madam President, Members of the Security Council,
Since Assistant Secretary-General Fernandez-Taranco’s briefing to this Council yesterday, there have been reports of continued serious developments in Ukraine. In Crimea, key sites such as airports, communications and public buildings, including the regional parliament, reportedly continue to be blocked by unidentified armed men. There are further reports of armed personnel taking control of regional administration buildings in several cities in the East and South of Ukraine.
The new Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksenov today released a statement appealing to President Putin "to provide assistance in ensuring peace and tranquillity on the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea." In the same statement, he announced that he was taking control of security in Crimea "on a temporary basis." He told all security personnel to declare allegiance to him rather than to the authorities of Kiev.
Following the reported deployment of additional Russian troops and armoured vehicles to Crimea, the Russian Federation’s Upper House of Parliament today approved a request of President Putin for Russian forces to be used in Ukraine, "pending the normalization of the public and political situation in that country".
At the same time, in this fluid situation, however, there are some encouraging signs. One of them is the reported announcement from Kiev about the intention to broaden the Government to include representatives from Eastern Ukraine. We are also noting that the calls for dialogue among all other interested parties, both inside and outside of Ukraine, appear to be resonating.
Referring to the Security Council’s discussions yesterday about Robert Serry’s fact-finding mission and his possible visit to Crimea, Mr. Serry was in touch with the authorities of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. He came to the conclusion that a visit to Crimea today was not possible for logistical reasons. In his statement today, Serry noted that if he had travelled to Crimea, he would have conveyed, on behalf of the Secretary-General, a message for all to calm down the situation and to refrain from any actions that could further escalate an already-tense environment. Robert Serry will travel to Geneva today, where he will brief the Secretary-General on his mission to Ukraine and discuss possible next steps.
The Secretary-General is gravely concerned that the situation has further deteriorated since yesterday's meeting of the Council. In this regard, let me reiterate the Secretary-General’s important messages conveyed in his statement of today:
“The Secretary-General continues to closely follow the seriously and rapidly unfolding events in Ukraine, including developments in Crimea, and is gravely concerned about the deterioration of the situation.
The Secretary-General reiterates his call for the full respect for and preservation of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
He calls for an immediate restoration of calm and direct dialogue between all concerned to solve the current crisis.
The Secretary-General will be speaking with President Vladimir Putin of Russia shortly about the situation in Ukraine.”
Let me say in closing: at this crucial moment it is important to recall the mission of this Organization to always search for peaceful settlements of disputes. This is the essence of the UN Charter and should serve as our primary guide in this serious situation.
Now is the time for cool heads to prevail.