The United Nations is closely following the ongoing diplomatic discussions on the future of European peace and security architecture between representatives of the Russian Federation, the United States, members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the European Union, and the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe,. We hope the outcome of these talks will strengthen peace and security in Europe, including for Ukraine.
Although not an active participant in these exchanges, in all his contacts, the Secretary-General has unequivocally supported the ongoing diplomatic efforts at all levels. Still, we remain greatly concerned that, even as these efforts continue, tensions keep escalating amid a dangerous military build-up in the heart of Europe.
It is reported that over 100,000 troops and heavy weaponry from the Russian Federation are positioned along border with Ukraine. Unspecified numbers of Russian troops and weaponry are also reportedly being deployed to Belarus ahead of large-scale joint military exercises in February on the borders with Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic States.
NATO members are also reportedly planning additional deployments in Eastern European member states, and NATO has advised that 8,500 troops are now on high alert.
Accusations and recriminations among the various actors involved in the ongoing discussions have created uncertainty and apprehension for many that a military confrontation is impending.
The Secretary-General has made clear that there can be no alternative to diplomacy and dialogue to deal with the complex \ and long-standing security concerns and threat perceptions that have been raised.
He has expressed his strong belief that there should not be any military intervention in this context and that diplomacy should prevail. He has been equally explicit that any such intervention by one country in another would be against international law and the United Nations Charter. His expectation is that we all contribute to avoiding confrontation and to creating conditions for a diplomatic solution to end this crisis.
We, therefore, welcome the steps taken so far by all involved to maintain dialogue. We urge and expect all actors to build on these efforts and to remain focused on pursuing diplomatic solutions by engaging in good faith.
We further urge all actors to refrain from provocative rhetoric and actions to maximize the chance for diplomacy to succeed. Achieving mutual understanding and lasting, mutually acceptable arrangements is the best way to safeguard regional and international peace and security in the interest of all.
Let me repeat the full commitment of the United Nations to the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, in accordance with relevant General Assembly resolutions.
It is important, especially at this time, for the international community to intensify its support for the efforts of the Normandy Four and of the OSCE-led Trilateral Contact Group to ensure the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, endorsed by this Council in its resolution 2202.
We welcome the recent meeting of the Normandy Four Advisers in Paris and their agreement to reconvene shortly in Berlin as another sign that diplomacy can work. We commend these efforts and those of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission.
Likewise, United Nations agencies in Ukraine are committed to continue delivering on their mandates, in accordance with the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality, humanity and independence. Safe, unimpeded humanitarian access must be respected, under any circumstances, to provide support to the 2.9 million people in need of assistance, with the majority in non-government-controlled areas. In this regard, I encourage Member States to contribute to the Humanitarian Response plan. Further, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine continues to document civilian casualties in the conflict area.
No one is watching the current diplomatic efforts more than the people of Ukraine. They have endured a conflict that has taken over 14,000 lives since 2014 and that tragically is still far from resolution. It is painfully obvious that any new escalation in or around Ukraine would mean more needless killing and destruction. Whatever one’s position regarding the current situation or the status quo in eastern Ukraine, this should be inconceivable. The fact that it is not should give us pause. The principles enshrined in the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and multiple other commitments to safeguard regional and international peace and security are crystal clear. Any escalation or new conflict would deal another serious blow to the architecture so painstakingly built up over the last 75 years to maintain international peace and security, just when we need it most.
Once again, I would like to stress the Secretary-General’s appeal to all concerned to take immediate steps to de-escalate tensions and continue on the diplomatic path. The United Nations stands ready to support all efforts to that end.
Thank you, Madam President.