International Community Unable to Help De-Escalate Tensions in Crimea

JEFFREY FELTMAN , UN UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS

While an end to the crisis in Ukraine had proven elusive thus far, a peaceful solution remained possible, the Secretary-General’s senior United Nations political affairs official Jeffrey Feltman told the Security Council yesterday.

 

The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, emphasized, however, that the frequency of the Council’s deliberations on the subject reflected the international community’s inability so far to deliver on its obligation to help de-escalate tensions as the Council members were considering the situation in Ukraine for the sixth time since 1 March.

Meeting yesterday afternoon to consider the situation in Ukraine, members of the Security Council had before them a letter (document S/2014/136) dated 28 February from that country’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and addressed to the President of the Council.

Also addressing the Council, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk of Ukraine said there was still a chance for peace.

“This Government is ready for an open dialogue. We extended our hand to Russia, but instead we got a barrel. But we still believe Russia is ready to negotiate and tackle this dramatic conflict.”

The Prime Minister of Ukraine said it was absolutely unacceptable in the twenty-first century to resolve any kind of conflict with tanks, artillery and boots on the ground. The Russian Federation’s actions were in violation of a number of treaties signed by the two countries, he emphasized, adding, however, that there was a chance to resolve the conflict in a peaceful manner.

Praising his country’s military for having refrained from the use of force, he said the foreign military presence in Ukraine had been clearly identified as Russian. Urging the Russian Federation to pull back its forces and to start real negotiations, he said the conflict was not merely regional in scope as its ramifications went beyond Ukraine’s borders.

However, the Russian Federation’s representative Vitaly Churkin responded that his country wanted neither war nor to exacerbate the situation further. However, the international community must objectively look at the facts in order to understand the genesis of the situation.

The representative of the United States described plans for a referendum in Crimea on whether to join the Russian Federation or remain within Ukraine as “hasty, unjustified and divisive”, while emphasizing that the vote proposed for Sunday, 16 March, would be a violation of Ukrainian sovereignty.

Also delivering statements were representatives of the United Kingdom, France, Rwanda, Jordan, Republic of Korea, China, Nigeria, Chile, Australia, Lithuania, Chad and Argentina.

Press Release, March 14, 2014; Image: UN

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