Granting Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens is a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty [fr]
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 25 April 2019
I warmly thank Ms. DiCarlo, Ms. Mueller, Mr. Apakan and Mr. Sajdik for their informative briefings on the tragic situation facing Ukraine. Allow me to express our heartfelt gratitude to Mr. Apakan and Mr. Sajdik for their excellent work.
France condemns in the strongest terms Russia’s decision to facilitate the granting of Russian nationality to Ukrainian citizens residing in certain areas of the Ukrainian oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk. In so doing, Russia is deliberately undermining the spirit of the Minsk agreements.
That provocative decision comes on the heels of the election of a new President in Ukraine, who made the policy of reaching out to the people of eastern Ukraine one of the central aspects of his election campaign. Five years after the beginning of the destabilization of Donbas, Russia, on the other hand, is showing its lack of political will to contribute to the implementation of the Minsk agreements, as well as its disregard for the commitments to which it has subscribed. The decision to facilitate the granting of Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens is a flagrant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, as was the holding of pseudo-elections in territories under separatist control last 11 November. In that regard, I would like to emphasize three points.
First, the alleged humanitarian grounds presented by the Russian side are baseless. While several million people in Ukraine today are in need of humanitarian assistance, the de facto separatist authorities continue to obstruct humanitarian access to the territories under their control, thereby further aggravating the situation of the most vulnerable people. Concrete actions must now contribute to improving the humanitarian situation. I refer in particular to the renovation of the Stanytsia Luhansk bridge and the opening of new crossing points on both sides of the line of contact to facilitate the movement of hundreds of thousands of people. A new prisoner exchange must also be prioritized, with the last conflict-related prisoner exchange dating back to 2017.
Secondly, it is also urgent to sustainably improve the security situation. The ceasefire is still not being upheld by the parties, nor is the withdrawal of heavy weapons. Mines continue to claim casualties indiscriminately on both sides of the line of contact. Russia has an undeniable responsibility, given its considerable influence over the separatists, which it continues to support financially and militarily.
The Minsk agreements provide for the monitoring of the situation and the implementation of the agreements by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, whose Special Monitoring Mission must enjoy free and unhindered access to the entire conflict zone, as provided for by its mandate. We strongly condemn the impediments to its movement and the attacks on the security of its personnel and equipment that are observed on a daily basis on the ground, particularly in the separatist zone. Lastly, the solution to the crisis is not to give Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens; it is to respect the commitments undertaken in the Minsk agreements to end the conflict. The latest alarming developments are giving rise to uncertainty, even as the new Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky has shown his determination to relaunch the implementation of the Minsk agreements and engage in closer relations with the populations residing in areas currently outside the control of the Ukrainian Government.
In addition to the Donbas issue, we have not forgotten the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. Five years after the illegal annexation of that Ukrainian peninsula, we are witnessing a steady deterioration in the human rights situation, particularly with regard to the Crimean Tatar community. We are also facing a deteriorated security situation in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, following the serious naval incident of November 2018. The 24 Ukrainian sailors detained since 25 November have still not been released, despite our repeated calls for their unconditional release, which I reiterate today.
In conclusion, I reaffirm France’s commitment to the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of Ukraine, as well as our readiness to pursue our efforts, together with Germany, to resolve the conflict in the context of negotiations in the Normandy format. While the coming months offer us an unprecedented opportunity to relaunch the negotiation process, Russia must now make a gesture of goodwill to honour the commitments to which it has subscribed, with a view to adopting a positive outlook on settling the conflict.