Speech by H.E.Mr. Sergii Reva, Ambassador of Ukraine addressed the Joint Committee on International Affairs and Trade of the Oireachtas, dedicated to the situation in Ukraine
Distinguished Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished members of the Committee,
At the outset I would like to thank you for giving me a chance to address the Committee at this crucial moment of the Ukrainian history.
I know that you all are sincerely concerned about last developments in Ukraine.
In fact, a moment of truth has come.
For all civilized states and people, for each and every European for whom human values are not blank words it is clear: Russian troops have invaded the territory of Ukraine in Crimea planning to expand their military occupation under illegal and groundless excuse of protecting the Russian speaking population.
Invasion by Russian troops of the territory of sovereign Ukraine is a brutal breach of international law and guarantees of security to our state given by Russia.
It is an evident violation of the UN Charter and the OSCE Helsinki Final Act, as well as of Russia's specific commitments to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity under the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 and the bilateral Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership of 1997. These actions are also a clear breach of the Ukrainian constitution which specifically recognizes the territorial integrity of the country and states that the Autonomous Republic of Crimea can only organize referenda on local matters but not on the modification of the territorial configuration of Ukraine.
Nobody should be susceptible to Kremlin propaganda and its obvious lie which try to persuade the world that Russia is a peacemaker, allegedly, willing to protect ethnical Russians on the territory of our country from “fascists and nationalists”.
Nobody and nothing threaten Russians and representatives of other nationalities living in Ukraine and in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in particular.
Russians insists that the new Ukrainian Government deprived the Russian population in Crimea in and South-Eastern regions of its right to speak Russian. It is not true. The abolition by the Ukrainian Parliament of a controversial and mainly politically motivated law “On the Foundations of State Language Policy”, which was adopted under the pretext to protect allegedly Russian language, was recently vetoed by the acting President and still remains in force.
But anyway, this law exists only 2 years. But 20 years before it was adopted, since the dawning of our Independence, nothing has been threatening to the Russian language in the mentioned regions.
I think this Language Policy law is not a major factor that needs an intervention to be resolved. There are a lot of civilized mechanisms exist within the OSCE and the Council of Europe in order to settle this issue.
The other problems which now exist in Crimea are similar to the other Ukrainian regions.
Ukraine position in this regard is that all problems and misunderstandings which are natural for difficult times can and must be resolved peacefully without foreign intervention with a help of security and human rights international institutions, such as the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe.
Trying to justify its aggressive actions Russia finds more and more excuses.
On Monday Russian Ambassador to the UN stated that it was the ex-President Yanukovysh who appealed to the Russian President to bring troops into Ukraine and even demonstrated a sheet of paper with Yanukovysh’s signature.
I deliberately don’t dwell on moral side of this matter. Even closest allies of Yanukovysh in Ukraine were outraged at his disgusting act to use foreign army against his own people.
I just want to point out that according to the Constitution only the Verkhovna Rada can legally afford foreign troops to move into Ukraine, not even a President in power.
Now it is obvious that this unprovoked and unveiled Russian aggression is the price we pay for our wish to determine our own future, to live in free, independent state.
This is an open attempt to destroy democracy and European choice gained through struggle by the Ukrainian people.
I don’t think that in this audience it is worth to recall the events that have led to today’s crisis. Facts are well known.
Yanukovych’s sudden reverse from the path of Ukraine’s European integration last November, his unwillingness to listen to the people who have been appealing to him for three months in the heart of Ukrainian capital, ignoring the international community calls to resolve peacefully difficult political situation, finally, turned in bloodshed. Around 100 people were shot dead by the police forces on the streets of Kyiv.
To stop the bloodshed on February 21, 2014, an Agreement on the Settlement of Crisis in Ukraine was signed.
According to the Agreement, within 48 hours after the signing of the Agreement a special law that would restore the Ukrainian Constitution of 2004 had to be adopted by the Verkhovna Rada, signed by the President and made public. The parties also agreed on the early presidential elections to be held immediately after the adoption of the new Constitution of Ukraine, but no later than in December, 2014. The parties agreed to refrain from the use of violence.
Meanwhile, on the next day Yanukovych publicly renounced the Agreement and stated that had no intention to sign the law restoring the Constitution of 2004 adopted by the Parliament, and left Kyiv for unknown destination.
Actually he has fled the country and left ruined economy, completely plundered state budget and a lot of luxury private estates and other belongings. “The Irish Times” covered this situation in details, so I’m sure you are fully aware of those facts.
Taking into account the absence of a legitimate Government of Ukraine which resigned on January 28 and President's self-removal from exercising his functions, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, being the only legitimate authority, on February 22, 2014, took the all power and responsibility for Ukraine.
Mr. Turchynov was elected as new Chairman and the acting president of Ukraine. The new Government was formed last Thursday.
The EU member states, including Ireland, US and other democracies recognized the legitimacy of state power in Ukraine.
However Russia considers it illegitimate stressing that the Agreement on the Settlement of Crisis in Ukraine of 21 February should be abided by the opposition.
I would like to note that, an allegation by the Russian Federation that the opposition failed to implement the Agreement is groundless and unconstructive.
The Agreement was not fulfilled by the ex-President Yanukovych himself. This is confirmed by his actions, particularly, his refusal to sign the new law restoring the Constitution of Ukraine of 2004 adopted by the Parliament by 10 a.m. February 23, 2014, as it was provided for by the Agreement.
Moreover, the Russian position is very surprising, given the fact that its Envoy Lukin refused to recognize the Agreement before it was signed.
Than the Russian aggression in Crimea has started and continued to develop over the last weekend.
What were the following events?
The authorization given by the Federation Council of Russia on 1 March for the use of the armed forces on the territory of Ukraine open a “Pandora box” of a new war in Europe.
As of today, approximately 16,000 Russian troops have been deployed in Crimea by the military ships, helicopters, cargo airplanes from the neighboring territory of the Russian Federation. The Russian occupant troops keep taking their attempts to seize, block and control crucial governmental and military objects of Ukraine in Crimea: the Parliament of Crimea, all civil and military airports, means of communications, radio stations, customs service, military and coastguard bases, Headquarters of the Ukraine’s Navy in Crimea. All main roads are blocked.
Accumulation of the Russian Federation’s troops and military equipment along the eastern border of Ukraine clearly indicates Russia’s preparation for a possible military intervention into Ukraine the other parts of Ukraine.
So far, Ukrainian Armed Forces have exercised restraint and refrained from active resistance to the aggression, although they are in full operational readiness.
The Russian Federation is performing active informational and psychological operations in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, as well as in the South-Eastern regions of Ukraine. They are aimed at discrediting legitimate authorities of Ukraine and misleading public opinion by calling Russia’s intervention a “peacekeeping operation”.
The Russian television shows the fake news about the attacks of Ukrainian nationalists in masks that used the newest firearm possessed today only by the Russian troops and corps of falsely killed in a battle Russian soldiers who lying on the ground without blood stains.
The Russian President’s Council of Human Rights officially recognized that the information about victims in Crimea, used by the Russian parliament to approve use of force in Ukraine, is not true.
On 28 February a draft law on annexation of Crimea has been registered in the Russian parliament. As you see our Russian partners are serious in their intention to cut some territory from Ukraine.
I would only add the following.
First: Ukraine did not threat any one: no Russian citizen has suffered in Crimea.
Ukraine determines to resolve peacefully all the concerns in Crimea wherever in other regions and abide by all its international obligations in respect to national minorities taken within the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe. We have already invited these institutions to monitor situation in Ukraine.
Second: Russia has ceased to be the guarantor of territorial integrity of Ukraine. It violated all bilateral and multilateral agreements signed with Ukraine and about Ukraine.
Third: Ukraine tries to avoid and not to react on provocation made by Russian dominant troops in Crimea. We demand to stop occupation, provocations against our military forces and pull back of the Russian troops to their permanent locations according to the bilateral agreements and start peaceful negotiations.
But in case of further aggression we will act accordingly.
Russia’s president Putin moved to defuse international tensions yesterday, saying there was no need to send Russian forces to Ukraine at present.
We could only welcome these words if the Russians will start acting accordingly:
- to stop aggression and immediately withdraw its armed forces to the areas of their permanent stationing in accordance with the Agreement on the Status and Conditions of the Black Sea Fleet Stationing of 1997;
- to demilitarize the so-called “self-defense forces” heavily equipped by the Russian ammunition;
- to start negotiation to decrease situation.
Dear Mr. Chairman,
Ukraine has already called upon all Members of the United Nations, particularly Security Council members, to do everything possible now to stop Russian aggression against Ukraine.
We urge all Member-states of the United Nations, EU, NATO to demonstrate solidarity with Ukrainian nation, to protect sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
The Council of the EU conclusions of 3 March and discussion of the Ukrainian issue at the UNSC later that day demonstrated a full support of the international community of Ukraine’s legitimate concerns.
We are grateful to the Government of Ireland and not indifferent Irish people for support of Ukraine at this difficult moment and their condemnation of aggressive actions of Russia.
Ukraine appreciated Ireland’s firm position announced on 1, 2 and 3rd of March by Tánaiste.
Irish military adviser MacDaniel is in the OSCE military mission to Ukraine which travelled to Ukraine today.
We have a feeling that we are not alone.
We believe that this support will continue to be effective, sustainable and concrete.
Today I have a chance to call you, Irish TD’s and Senators, to use all your political influence to stop the aggressor and prevent a war in the very centre of Europe.
5 March 2014