Swedish Statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on Ukraine
National statement delivered by Ambassador Carl Skau on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on Ukraine, 30 October 2018, New York.
Thank you, Mr. President,
And thank you as well to Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo and Assistant Secretary-General Muller, for briefing the Council today.
It has been almost five years since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and the beginning of its aggression in eastern Ukraine. This highly volatile situation clearly poses a threat to international peace and security, and Sweden has throughout its tenure on the Security Council worked to ensure that the Council remains seized of the matter.
The continued high levels of violence in Donbass and our deep concern with the so-called “elections” planned for November 11 prompted us and several other members to call for this meeting.
Let me be clear of why this issue belongs in the Council. What we see is the attempt to redraw borders in Europe backed by military power. This is a violation of the UN Charter. It also represents a violation of the Helsinki Final Act and the Paris Charter. This challenge to the international legal order is not a regional problem, but one with global implications.
We regret that there are no signs of Russia, a member of this Council, reversing its actions to comply with international law. Again, let me be clear: Russia’s aggression is the origin of the conflict, and Russia has the influence to end it whenever it so chooses.
We remain deeply concerned about the continuing violence and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine. The conflict has already caused more than 10.000 deaths and affected more than 3.8 million people directly, 70 percent of them women, elderly and children. And almost two thirds of the close to two million internally displaced persons are women.
We note slight improvements in access for humanitarian organizations, but continue to emphasize the need for full and unhindered access, both in government controlled and non-government controlled areas. Sweden will continue providing principled humanitarian assistance to meet the most urgent needs of the people affected by this conflict. And as we heard from OCHA today, the humanitarian appeal remains underfunded, and we join OCHA in calling on donors to increase their contributions.
While the international community continues to support the Minsk agreements, not even the first provision in this agreement, a complete ceasefire, has been implemented. In line with consistent demands by the European Union, we call for full implementation of the agreements, starting with an immediate and lasting ceasefire. We support the efforts made within the Normandy format to this end, and we commend the government of Ukraine for recently extending the special status law for the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
The so-called “elections” in Donbass planned for November are in turn a blatant violation of the Minsk agreements. We call on Russia to assume it’s responsibility and use its influence to stop them from being held. The Minsk agreements clearly state that local elections should only take place after proper security conditions are in place. This means a complete ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weapons, monitored by the OSCE. Russia must ensure that the armed formations controlling certain areas in Donetsk and Luhansk observe the ceasefire, as well as cease all military and financial support to these formations. The Minsk Agreements further stipulate that elections should be held under Ukrainian legislation, be in accordance with OSCE standards, and monitored by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
We strongly support the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, which must be given full, safe and unhindered access throughout the country, including along the Russia-Ukraine state border and to the Crimean Peninsula.
Finally, Mr. President,
The ongoing militarization of Crimea and the tensions in the Sea of Azov raise additional concerns and they create a very dangerous backdrop for the planned so called “elections”. The redeployment of military vessels and the excessive inspections of commercial traffic in the area already affected by conflict has not gone unnoticed. By ceasing these activities, and by taking steps to ensure that the Minsk agreements are finally implemented, Russia could send a signal that it is serious about reducing tensions.
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, in blatant disregard of international law and the European security order, has caused tremendous suffering and must come to an end. Until such time, this Council must remain actively seized of this matter.