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19 March 2014 - Security Council - Ukraine - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(UN translation)

I thank Mr. Eliasson and Mr. Šimonović for their statements, as well as the Permanent Representative of Ukraine for his. This past Saturday, the international community sent a unanimous message to Russia on behalf of the Council, to whit, that the referendum it had instigated in Crimea was illegal and null and void under international law. Russia’s veto changed nothing — quite the contrary. The illegal act of separating Crimea, which had been in preparation since a long time, appeared all the more blatant.

Yesterday Crimea was annexed by Russia, despite the picture painted that has fooled no one. The annexation was accompanied by flags, drums and trumpets forming a gathering wave of aggressive nationalism, the future consequences of which, once it is awoken, are unknown; nationalism that never leads to anything good, a nationalism that is used to mask or to justify attempts to suppress civil rights.

Moreover, little effort has been made to hide the use of force. The referendum was hastily organized, Russian soldiers were everywhere. Nothing was left to chance. The media was controlled at the level of describing events, international observers were recruited from among the far-right European parties and if fascists are part of the story, they are certainly not where they are claimed to be. Finally, the final results appeared so excessive that they lost all meaning. How could more than 86 per cent of the people have voted, when some communities — particularly the Crimean Tartars and Ukrainians that represent nearly 14 per cent of the population — had called for a boycott.

The United Nations was created to ensure that one would no longer witness such spectacles which dishonour the organizers and in effect reflect upon the entire international community. The rule of law must guide relations among States. The acquisition of territory resulting from the use of force or even from simple threats is simply unacceptable. That principle that Russia subscribed to in the early days is our code. I would call it the DNA of the Organization. As I stated on Saturday (see S/PV.7138), by voting against the draft resolution, it is the Charter of the United Nations that Russia has in effect vetoed.

We have just heard from Mr. Šimonović that nothing in Ukraine justified references to extremely serious attacks on human rights or minorities placed in critical situations. If any serious human rights violations have occurred, it was during the time of Yanukovych.

At least we are reassured regarding the situation throughout the country. The authorities in Kyiv are endeavoring to extend their hand to all of the various components of Ukrainian society. Nothing will justify in the long-term the current discussion about an irresponsible Government whose actions could lead to fear among its populations.

In terms of the protection of Russian and Russian language populations in Ukraine invoked by Moscow to justify its intervention in Ukraine — it is again clear that it does not correspond to the reality of the situation, nor is it a legal justification of the military occupation of a territory of a sovereign State and it becomes even less relevant when used as a pretext to extend its own borders.

We continue to recall that minorities in Ukraine, including religious and language minorities, must be protected. That falls first and foremost to the transition authorities — and that is what they are doing. The situation in Kyiv, L’viv, Donets’k or Kharkiv should not concern the Council. It is in Sevastopol and Simferopol that the law is being flouted, militiamen terrorize those who will not give in to force, and Ukrainian soldiers are being killed simply because they refuse to surrender.

Faced with a Russia that does not heed the concerns of the international community as a whole and has not even responded to the sensible propositions we have made to peacefully resolve the crisis, we are forced to respond. All that remains is to make Russia understand that we will never accept the fait accompli that it has just imposed on the ground. But we must also look to the future, with a double call on Russia.

The first is to tell it to stop there. Agents provocateurs are already at work in eastern Ukraine; let them not play the same game as in Crimea; let Russia cease its thinly veiled manoeuvres. It has already succeeded in creating lasting alienation between Ukraine and European countries; to go further wold be most grave. The second call regards the need for Moscow to open a channel of direct negotiations with Kyiv. Russia should make no mistake — Ukraine cannot be replaced with something else, as it seems to hope; no one will decide Ukraine’s future except Ukraine itself.

We are already counting the first casualties of this grim misadventure. Yesterday, the Ukrainian Prime Minister announced that the conflict with Russia was now moving from a political phase to a military one. We continue to call on Russia to see reason, listen to the voice of the international community, and not drag the international community into a spiral that will sooner or later spin out of control, or at least escape the restraint of the Ukrainians.

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU