The pretence is now over. The world can see that Russian military forces have taken control of the Crimean Peninsula, part of the sovereign territory of Ukraine. This action is against the expressed wishes of the legitimate Ukrainian Government. It is a clear and unambiguous violation of the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and is a flagrant breach of international law.
We can see absolutely no justification for these actions. We have heard from Russia that their forces are in Ukraine to protect minorities from armed radicals and anti-Semites; we hear claims of interference in the affairs of the Orthodox Church, we hear claims of hundreds of thousands of refugees. But Russia has provided no evidence for any of this. It is clear that these claims have simply been fabricated to justify Russian military action.
In assuming control of a sovereign part of Ukraine on a trumped up pretext, the Russian Federation has contravened its obligations as a member of the international community. It has violated Article 2 of the UN Charter, which prohibits ‘the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state’. It has failed to honour its international commitments as a founding member of the OSCE and as a signatory to the 1975 Helsinki Final Act. It has reneged on its obligations under the 1997 bilateral Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation between Russia and Ukraine and the 1994 Budapest Memorandum.
The Russian representative claims that Mr Yanukovich has called for Russian military intervention. We are talking about a former leader who abandoned his office, his capital and his country. Whose corrupt governance brought his country to the brink of economic ruin. Who suppressed protests against his government leading to over eighty deaths and whose own party has abandoned him. The idea that his pronouncements now convey any legitimacy whatsoever is farfetched and of a keeping with the rest of Russia’s bogus justification for its actions. The government in Kiev is legitimate and has been overwhelmingly endorsed by the Ukrainian parliament.
In the 21st Century no country should be acting with such blatant disregard for international law. These actions will be met with a strong and united response from the international community. Russia should not be surprised that its political and economic reputation have already suffered. The Rouble has fallen and the Russian stock market is now down more than ten percent.
Just as we condemn the Russian Federation for its confrontational acts, we commend the Government of Ukraine for refusing to rise to provocation. This is a wise decision. We urge the Ukrainian government to continue to act calmly and to avoid actions or rhetoric that would inflame tensions or provide a further pretext for further military action.
We call on the Russian Federation to immediately cease all military action in Crimea and to refrain from any interference elsewhere in Ukraine. Russian should withdraw its forces to their bases and return to force levels previously agreed with the Government of Ukraine as part of the Black Sea Fleet basing arrangements.
If Russia is genuinely concerned about protecting minority groups and upholding the human rights of Ukrainian citizens, then armed intervention is not the way to address these concerns.
Instead, Russia should open up a direct dialogue with the Ukrainian Government in Kiev; and not simply pick and choose individuals with whom they wish to engage. They should respond to requests by Ukraine and other signatories of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum to hold consultations, as specified by paragraph 6 of that Memorandum.
They should engage constructively in the debate taking place in the OSCE and other institutions concerning the deployment of a fact-finding mission and an international observer mission to Ukraine. Such a mission could establish the real facts on the ground, monitor the situation and indeed provide any necessary reassurances and guarantees, through peaceful means.
We welcome the UN Secretary General’s decision to send the Deputy Secretary General to Kiev today. I hope that he would also go to the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. We call on the UN Secretary General to use his good offices to their fullest extent to help to de-escalate the current situation.
This is not 1968 or 1956. The era in which one country can suppress democratisation in a neighbouring state through military intervention on the basis of transparently trumped-up pretexts is over. We stand ready to work with Ukraine, Russia and all our international partners to support a stable, united, inclusive and economically prosperous Ukraine.
The United Kingdom urges Russia to uphold its obligations under international law, including under the UN Charter. To act in a way which promotes stability, rather than to destabilise the region through the promotion of new frozen conflicts. To support democratic processes and the rule of law, not to subvert or suppress them.
Response by Ambassador Lyall Grant of the UK Mission to the UN, to Ambassador Churkin of the Russian Federation, at the Security Council meeting on Ukraine
Thank you Madame President,
I don’t want to prolong this debate, but I must take issue with some of the things that the Russian Ambassador has said.
Let’s be clear about the facts about what has happened in Crimea. The Russian forces have forcibly taken over military and civilian airports, the infrastructure. They have set up road blocks. They have pressurised Ukrainian military leaders to defect. They have given other Ukrainian units ultimatums to surrender. They have blocked Ukrainian ports and they have vastly increased the Russian military forces all along the Russian / Ukrainian border.
There is no justification for this military action in Ukrainian international law or in the Agreement between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on the Status and Conditions for the Presence of the Russian Federation Black Sea Fleet on the territory of Ukraine as article 6 of that says very clearly and I quote: “Military formations shall respect the sovereignty of Ukraine, shall abide by Ukrainian laws and shall not interfere in the internal affairs of Ukraine.”
And what part of that agreement justifies the military action that we have seen Russia taking in the Crimea?
My Russian colleague has said just now that the Russian Federation is not against the idea of an OSCE Monitoring Mission to Eastern Ukraine and Crimea. Can he now confirm that the Russian Federation accepts the deployment in the next few days of such a mission?