Security Council Briefing on the Ukraine
Security Council Briefing on the Ukraine National Statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden on Tuesday, the 29th of May
Thank you, Mr President.
Let me express our thanks to the briefers for their excellent input into the discussion and our appreciation for the presence of the foreign ministers, you Mr President, the Netherlands and the Ukraine here.
We very much welcome the opportunity to discuss the situation in eastern Ukraine and we thank the Polish Presidency for scheduling this important briefing. The redrawing of borders - backed by military power – as we have seen not only in Ukraine, but also in Georgia, represents a threat that goes beyond Europe; when a state decides to challenge the international legal order, and the UN Charter as such, this constitutes a threat to us all. Security is not a zero-sum game and the rules-based order can only function when everyone adheres to the rules.
We are deeply concerned over the recent escalation of violence and the deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation in Donbas. Casualties, heavy shelling, damaged critical infrastructure and imminent environmental disasters underline how civilians are bearing the heaviest burden. Almost three and a half million people are now conflict affected and in need of humanitarian assistance. Thousands of Ukrainians living along the contact line are in particular need. It is crucial that humanitarian actors are given full, safe and unhindered access to people in need of humanitarian assistance; as has been stated by many around this table today.
We call for an immediate and full implementation of the Minsk agreements and we support efforts within the Normandy format to this end. Our full support for these efforts does not alter the fact that Russia's continuous aggression against Ukraine is the origin of the conflict, and that Russia has the influence to end it whenever it so chooses. The withdrawal of foreign armed formations, military equipment and mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine as well as the restoration of Ukrainian control over its state border remain crucial.
Sweden would welcome and be ready to contribute to a possible UN-mission in Donbas. However, such a mission must, from the on-set, cover the entire occupied area of Ukraine, including the Russia-Ukraine border and have as its clear aim to restore Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
We strongly support the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. It is unacceptable that the mission's monitors continue to be intimidated, denied access and have their equipment destroyed; primarily in areas held by Russian-backed armed groups. We call on Russia to use its influence over the armed groups it supports to ensure the Special Monitoring Mission's full, safe and unhindered access throughout Ukraine, including along the Russia-Ukraine state border and to the Crimean Peninsula.
The recent holding of presidential elections in illegally annexed Crimea and the inauguration of the Kerch bridge connecting the peninsula to mainland Russia constitute clear breaches of international law. The European Union and Sweden will continue to remain firm in applying a non-recognition policy regarding Crimea, including through sanctions.
Human rights monitors consistently report on a deteriorating human rights situation in Crimea, where torture, kidnapping and house searches have become commonplace. Full, free and unrestricted access for international human rights actors to the whole territory of Ukraine, including Crimea, continues to be paramount. We welcome the yearly General Assembly resolution on human rights situation in Crimea and its broad support.
As the Foreign Minister of the Netherlands reminded us today, 298 human lives were lost in the downing of flight MH17. This was a heinous crime, which constituted an unacceptable violation of international law. On May 24th, the independent and impartial Joint Investigation Team concluded beyond doubt that the BUK missile system used to bring down flight MH17 belonged to the armed forces of the Russian Federation, based in Kursk. We condemn this tragedy and call upon the Russian Federation to accept its responsibility, to cooperate fully with the ongoing international criminal investigation in order to establish accountability, and to provide full reparations for the injury caused by these unlawful acts. Sweden reiterates its support for UN Security Council Resolution 2166.
Thank you, Mr President.