The Situation in Ukraine
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Statement by HE Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
Thank you to Assistant-Secretary-General Fernandez-Taranco for his briefing. We welcome Ambassador Sergeyev's (Ukraine) participation in this meeting.
The situation in Ukraine clearly continues to escalate. Tensions continue to rise, and the potential for military confrontation is obvious.
Since this Council last met on Saturday, Russian military activity in Crimea has seriously intensified and there are reports of more Russian troop deployments on Ukraine's eastern and southern borders, violations of Ukraine's airspace by Russian fighter planes and reports of Russian naval vessels blocking the exits of Sevastopol Bay in Crimea.
We are seriously concerned about escalation of Russian military activity. These actions, along with the decision by the Russian Parliament to authorise the use of force in Ukraine, are wholly unacceptable.
Russia's actions are undermining the right of the Ukrainian people to choose their own future.
Russia's actions are also contrary to international law. They contravene the UN Charter. They also contravene agreements to which Russia itself is a party – the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, the 1997 Bilateral Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Under these agreements, there is a specific commitment to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine and a commitment to non-intervention. And to refrain from the use of force – or the threat to use force.
The Australian Government – together with the broader international community, which is speaking clearly and with one voice – has urged Russia to stand-down and withdraw its armed forces, abide by its international legal commitments, and immediately take steps to reduce tensions. Russia must engage in direct dialogue with Ukraine in accordance with Article 7 of its own Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership with Ukraine.
In this Council Australia has already called for Russia to respect Ukraine's unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We reiterate that call here today.
We also reiterate our earlier call not just to avoid provocation, but for proactive steps to de-escalate this crisis.
We commend the restraint shown by Ukraine itself in the face of continuing and very serious provocation. We support the efforts of the new Government of Ukraine to deal with this crisis and stabilise the situation in its country.
The international political engagement we have seen to date on this issue has been essential and it must continue – indeed, increase. It is indicative of the level of concern regarding Russia's actions, and the extent of the determination on the part of the international community to de-escalate this crisis.
The international community – and this Council – must support all efforts towards de-escalation. This means exploring and promoting all opportunities for mediation and dialogue.
Australia would also strongly support the deployment of a full monitoring mission to Ukraine, and we are grateful to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for working on this possibility. This would be the best way to address Russia's stated concerns about minority rights and we urge Russia to consider this. We welcome the news that the OSCE may deploy some initial monitors tonight.
We also welcome the engagement by the UN Secretary-General, and the visit by Deputy Secretary-General Eliasson to Ukraine. We urge all parties to cooperate with the Deputy Secretary-General as he seeks to promote dialogue and cooperation and see for himself the facts on the ground. It is imperative he be given access to all parts of Ukraine.
This situation must be resolved by peaceful means – there is no other option.
As Australian Prime Minister Abbott said in the Australian Parliament yesterday, unprovoked aggression should have no place in our world. Russia should stand-down and withdraw its forces from Ukraine in accordance with its obligations, and the people of Ukraine ought to be able to determine their future themselves.