She called on all sides to exercise maximum restraint. To be sure, tensions in and around Ukraine are higher than at any point since 2014, she said. Speculation around a potential military conflict involving Russia, is rife. Despite repeated efforts, talks both in the Normandy Four format – a grouping of Germany, France, the Russian Federation and Ukraine that has gathered periodically since the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea – and discussions led by the Trilateral Contact Group (OSCE, Russian Federation, Ukraine) which produced the Minsk agreements, remain deadlocked.
Minsk accords: the path forward
The accords – also known as the Minsk II agreement, signed in 2015 by representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Russian Federation, Ukraine and leaders of two pro-Russian separatist regions – outline a series of political and military steps to settle the fighting between Government forces and separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Ms. DiCarlo also called for the full use of the many available regional and other mechanisms and frameworks. She welcomed recent diplomatic contacts between Heads of State, recent statements prioritizing continued diplomatic engagement and the announcement of force redeployments.
However, more must done, and she called for urgent steps on the ground and efforts to end inflammatory rhetoric, pressing the Council to support the OSCE and its Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, which must enjoy safe and secure conditions.
Solidarity with the people
For its part, she said the UN continues to stand with the people of Ukraine, expressing full support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. Three humanitarian convoys have delivered over 140 metric tons of life-saving assistance across the contact line between Government and non-Government controlled areas of Ukraine since the start of 2022. However, for the war-wary people of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, she said the impact of COVID-19, on top of the conflict, has caused even more suffering.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) continues to document civilian casualties and the impact of hostilities, monitor freedom of movement, and receive and report on allegations of human rights violations. Noting that over 14,000 people have already lost their lives in the conflict, “we cannot afford to fail,” she said.
Signed ‘at the barrel of a gun’
Sergey Vershinin, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said seven years have passed since the Council adopted resolution 2202 (2015), unanimously endorsing the Minsk agreements. He disputed claims that Moscow is sidestepping its obligations because there is no mention of the Russian Federation in the Minsk agreements. The “ostrich-like” position of Western colleagues who turn a blind eye to these abuses meanwhile, instead has them seeking answers in the Normandy Four format, which only provides more space for Ukraine to continue its military adventures, he said. US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in Ukraine.
‘A moment of peril’
In response, Anthony Blinken, Secretary of State of the United States, described implementation of the Minsk agreements as “a goal we all share” and the main framework for resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where today, he said, the most immediate threat is Moscow’s looming aggression. “This is a moment of peril” both for the lives of millions of Ukrainians and for the rules-based international order, he added. “The basic principles that sustain peace and security – enshrined in wake of two world wars – are under threat.”
“By sharing what we know with the world, we hope that we can influence [the] Russian Federation to abandon the path of war and choose a different path, while there is still time.” He challenged Moscow to announce today that it will not invade Ukraine, and to back up that statement by sending its troops back to their barracks and its diplomats to the negotiating table.