The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.
The President: At the outset of the meeting, I should like, on behalf of the members of the Security Council to express the deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of those who lost their lives aboard the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 on 17 July 2014, and to the people and Governments of all those countries who lost their citizens in the crash.
I now ask that all those present stand and join in observing a minute of silence in the memory of those who lost their lives.
The members of the Security Council observed a minute of silence.
The President: In accordance with rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure, I invite the representatives of Belgium, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Ukraine and Viet Nam to participate in this meeting.
In accordance with rule 39 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure, I invite Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, to participate in this meeting.
The Security Council will now begin its consideration of the item on its agenda.
I now give the floor to Mr. Feltman.
Mr. Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs: As we face a rapidly deteriorating crisis in Ukraine that bears consequences far beyond the country’s borders, we deeply regret that the glimpse of hope that followed the announcement of President Poroshenko’s peace plan, including the unilateral ceasefire and peace talks with the armed groups, has quickly dissipated.
In my briefing to the Council today, I will focus on developments in eastern Ukraine, as well as on international efforts towards a peaceful resolution.
First, with respect to the situation in eastern Ukraine, while the United Nations has at this point no independent verification of the circumstances regarding the tragic crash yesterday of a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane, the Secretary-General is alarmed at what seem to be credible, numerous reports that suggest that a sophisticated surface-to-air missile was used. The Secretary-General strongly condemns this apparently deliberate downing of a civilian aircraft.
This horrifying incident serves as the starkest reminder of how dire the situation in eastern Ukraine has become and how it affects countries and families well beyond Ukraine’s borders. Nearly 300 innocent people from many countries, some of whom are represented by members of the Council, were killed. The casualties include a professional staff member of the World Health Organization. I was shocked to learn just now that nearly two-thirds of the victims come from the Netherlands, and that there were 80 children on board that flight. We convey our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims.
The Secretary-General stated yesterday that there is clearly a need for a full and transparent international investigation. The United Nations is fully ready to cooperate. We have been in touch yesterday and today with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and ICAO has offered to Ukrainian officials its investigative capacity in order to put together an international team. ICAO and Ukrainian officials are speaking today, and the Secretary-General is scheduled to speak with Ukrainian President Poroshenko tomorrow.
Following the 30 June announcement by President Poroshenko of the end of the 10-day ceasefire and the subsequent resumption of security and law enforcement operations in the eastern parts of the country, the fighting between Government forces and armed groups has intensified dangerously, resulting in numerous deaths. According to the Ukrainian authorities, a number of towns, including notably the cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, as well as various smaller villages in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, have been returned to their control.
However, relentless fighting has continued particularly in and around the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk, where the armed groups appear to have consolidated their presence. Earlier this week, a fierce battle was also fought over the international airport in Luhansk, which now appears to be under the Ukrainian Government’s control. The situation on and around the border between Ukraine and the Russian Federation is of particular concern. While it is impossible for the United Nations to independently verify these accounts, in recent days a number of fatal incidents and intense fighting have been reported.
On 13 July, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation issued a statement noting that one Russian national died and two were seriously injured when a Ukrainian army shell hit a residential house. Ukraine has rejected this claim. In the same statement, the Ministry also warned that “tensions in the area of the Russian-Ukrainian border have dangerously escalated and may have irreversible consequences, for which Ukraine will be held responsible”.
According to the Ukrainian authorities, the country’s border guard units have reportedly come under continuous attack with rockets and mortars by armed groups. There are also reports that several Ukrainian military aircraft have been shot down over the past weeks, most recently on 16 July.
As the Secretary-General has reiterated on countless occasions, armed groups need to disarm immediately and to stop engaging in unlawful and violent acts. At the same time, we continue to strongly urge the Ukrainian authorities to act with maximum restraint and to make every effort possible to ensure the protection of civilians caught in the fighting. Estimations of the total number of civilian casualties vary, but according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, there have been approximately 500 casualties so far and 1,400 injured. Furthermore, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that the crisis had displaced some tens of thousands of people as of 11 July. Grievances can and must never justify endangering the lives of those one claims and aims to represent and protect.
The Secretary-General welcomes the intensive diplomatic efforts undertaken by many members of the Council and others in recent weeks with a view to de-escalatingthecrisis.The2JulyjointBerlindeclaration agreed upon by the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation, Germany, France and Ukraine — similar to the 17 April Geneva statement — provides a clear and constructive way forward. As the declaration underlines, there is an urgent need for a sustainable ceasefire in eastern Ukraine to be agreed and fully observed by all concerned, as well as to secure and effectively control the Russian-Ukrainian border.
As the fighting continues, however, we are disconcerted by the apparent lack of tangible progress towards a political solution. A first, critical step would be the immediate resumption of a ceasefire. The Secretary-General calls on the international community to come together in support of Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter, and to preserve peace and security for the broader region. We will continue do our part. the Secretary-General is in close contact with world leaders and has asked me to return to Kyiv and Moscow in the coming days in the spirit of his good offices.
Establishing a path to peace in Ukraine, as in areas of conflict elsewhere in the world, will require a concerted effort by national actors from across the political spectrum, backed by the strong and unified support of the international community. While the security, political, economic, social, and human rights issues in Ukraine that should be addressed are indeed complicated, we hope that the shock of the downing of the civilian passenger jet yesterday will prompt a serious and sustained effort to end the fighting and concentrate positively on Ukraine’s future.
The President: I thank Mr. Feltman for his briefing. I now give the floor to the members of the Security Council.
Sir Mark Lyall Grant (United Kingdom): We meet today in the most tragic of circumstances. Yesterday, Malaysia Airlines passenger flight MH-17 appears to have been shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing all passengers and crew. Our deepest, most heartfelt condolences go to the families of the victims and to the people and Governments of those countries affected. In the United Kingdom, we are mourning the loss of at least nine British citizens who were passengers on the flight. This is a dark moment for the international community. The senseless violence unleashed by armed separatists in eastern Ukraine has reached monstrous proportions.
The precise circumstances and causes of this tragic event must be established quickly and beyond any doubt. As the Council has affirmed this morning, that will require a full, thorough and independent international investigation, in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines. The International Civil Aviation Organization, which provides the international legal framework for the investigation of air accidents, should have a central role to play in ensuring that there is credible and independent international involvement.
We welcome the indications from the Ukrainian authorities that they want international investigators to join their efforts. The United Kingdom will provide whatever assistance is necessary to support that investigation. The immediate priority has to be for investigators to gain access to the crash site so they can start their work. They must be able to operate unhindered and in security. There must be no interference or tampering with the evidence. Armed separatist groups in the vicinity must allow such access. Despite assurances made yesterday evening, we understand that has not yet happened. We call on Russia to use its influence with those groups to ensure that it happens. The special monitoring mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe already present in eastern Ukraine can play a key role in facilitating and safeguarding access.
Early indications are that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 was brought down by a surface-to-air missile. The MH-17 is not the first aircraft to be brought down in the area. On 14 June, armed separatists claimed responsibility for — indeed, gloated publicly over — the shooting down of a Ukrainian Il-76 transport aircraft, with a loss of all 49 aboard. On 14 July, armed separatists shot down an An-26 transport aircraft with a surface-to-air missile. And, on 16 July, a Ukrainian Su-25 jet was shot down in circumstances that have yet to be fully clarified.
We have to ask searching questions about why we are now confronting this tragic situation. Russian officials have claimed that armed separatists in eastern Ukraine represent a spontaneous local insurgency. We know that is not the case. We know that the three leading figures of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic are Russian citizens who have come from outside Ukraine. We know that weapons, equipment and logistical support have been systematically provided to armed separatist groups by Russia, including up to 100 man- portable air defence systems and 15 to 25 main battle tanks, not to mention artillery pieces, rocket launchers and other armoured vehicles.
The United Kingdom urges Russia to reflect carefully on the situation it has created. We urge Russia to cease its policy of supporting armed separatist groups and their violent actions of destabilizing a neighbouring country and of generating displacement and social and economic hardship. Let us hear today a clear and unequivocal condemnation from Russia of the actions of these armed groups. These armed groups do not represent the people of Ukraine; without Russian support, they would wither.
It is the Council’s responsibility to respond to such tragedies by drawing the right lessons and working together with commitment and conviction to prevent their repetition. It is clear where responsibility lies: with the senseless violence of armed separatists and with those who have supported, equipped and advised them. The Council must be united in condemning these actions and in demanding that these groups disarm, desist from violence and intimidation and engage in dialogue through the democratic mechanisms that are available to them. They have been given opportunities to do so, most recently through President Poroshenko’s peace plan. Those opportunities have all been spurned.
In the press statement agreed earlier today, the members of the Security Council expressed their condolences and called for an international investigation and appropriate accountability. That is welcome, but it is not enough. The Council must go further. It should come together behind a clear demand that the armed separatist groups should lay down their arms and pursue whatever political legitimate objectives they may have through exclusively peaceful and democratic means, and that the flow of arms, fighters and logistical support to the armed separatists be fully halted and the borders secured. In the light of yesterday’s tragedy, any other course of action would be unconscionable.
Mr. Cherif (Chad) (spoke in French): I would like to thank Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman for his briefing on the recent tragic events in Ukraine.
Chad expresses its deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the 298 victims of the crash of the Malaysia Airlines aircraft. Given the numerous nationalities among the victims, this tragic event has an impact on peace and security throughout the entire international community. Whatever the nature and perpetrators of this incident, this is about human lives. Chad joins the rest of the international community in calling for the launch a full and transparent international investigation to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the crash and to establish responsibility for the catastrophe. In that regard, we welcome the willingness of Ukrainian authorities to expand the investigation to include independent international experts.
At this time sensitive time of grief, Chad reiterates its call on all parties involved to exercise calm and restraint. We urge countries with influence on the parties to the conflict to encourage dialogue and reconciliation. Chad takes note of the announcement by the insurgents that they would observe a ceasefire to allow for the removal of bodies, as well as the willingness of the Ukrainian Government to implement a peace plan with a view to establishing the foundation for an inclusive political dialogue, which is the only possible way to resolve this serious crisis.
Ms. Power (United States of America): Yesterday we were all shocked by the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. All 298 people aboard — 283 passangers and 15 crew members — were killed. As we stared at the passanger list yesterday, we saw next to three of the passangers’ names a capital “I”. As we now know, that letter stands for “infant”. To the families and friends of the victims, it is impossible to find words to express our condolences. We can only commit to them that we will not rest until we find out what happened. A full, credible and unimpeded international investigation must begin immediately. The perpetrators must be brought to justice; they must not be sheltered by any State Member of the United Nations.
Let me share with the Council our assesment of the evidence so far.
We assess that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, carrying 298 people from Amsterdan to Kuala Lumpur, was likely downed by a surface-to-air missile (SAM) — an SA-11 — operated from a separatist-held location in eastern Ukraine. The airliner was travelling at a cruise altitude of 33,000 feet, and its speed was typical for an airliner along an established flight corridor frequented by commercial traffic. The flight was transmiting its assigned transponder code, corresponding with its flight plan, and flight tracking data was publicly available on the Internet. There was nothing threatening or provocative about MH-17.
Of the operational SAM systems located near the border, only the SA-11, SA-20 and SA-22 systems are capable of hitting an aircraft at the flight’s altitude of 33,000 feet. We can rule out shorter-range SAMSs known to be in separatist hands, including man- portable air defence systems, and SA-8 and SA-13 systems, which are not capable of hitting an aircraft at that altitude. Early Thursday, an SA-11 SAM system was reported near Zahnitkiv by a western reporter, and separatists were spotted hours before the incident with an SA-11 system at a location close to the site where the plane went down.
Separatists initially claimed responsibility for shooting down a military transport plane, and posted videos that are now being connected to the Malaysia Airlines crash. Separatist leaders also boasted on social media about shooting down a plane, but later deleted those messages. Because of the technical complexity of the SA-11, it is unlikely that the separatists could effectively operate the system without assistance from knowledgeable personnel. Therefore, we cannot rule out technical assistance from Russian personnel in operating the systems. The Ukrainians do have SA-11 systems in their inventory; however, we are not aware of any Ukrainian SAM systems in the area of the shoot- down. More important, since the beginning of the crisis Ukrainian air defences have not fired a single missile, despite several alleged violations of their airspace by Russian aircraft.
This also follows a pattern of actions by Russian- backed separatists. On 13 June, separatists shot down a Ukrainian transport plane carrying 40 paratroopers and 9 crew members. On 24 June, as the Council was meeting to welcome Ukraine’s unilateral ceasefire (see S/PV.7205), we received word that separatists had downed a Ukrainian helicopter, killing all nine aboard. On 14 July, separatists claimed credit for downing a Ukrainian military cargo plane flying at 6,000 metres. And on 16 July they claimed credit for the downing of a Ukrainian fighter jet. If indeed Russian-backed separatists were behind this attack on a civilian airliner, they and their backers would have good reason to cover up evidence of their crime. It is therefore extremely important that an investigation be commencedimmediately.
In the first instance, the special monitoring mission the of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe should act as a first responder, thereby laying the foundation for efforts by other international organizations and individual nations, including those whose citizens were victims of the tragedy. Yesterday, President Obama assured Ukraine’s President Poroshenko that United States experts would offer all possible assistance upon his request. President Poroshenko has invited the independent and credible International Civil Aviation Organization to join an investigation. International investigators must be granted immediate, full and unfettered access to the crash site. All those concerned — Russia, pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine — should agree to support an immediate ceasefire to facilitate access by international investigators. In that regard, we look to the monitoring misson also to reach agreement with separatists and others in the region to make that possible. All evidence must remain undisturbed and any evidence removed from the site by the Russian-backed separatists operating in the area should be promptly returned and handed over. Russia needs to help make that happen.
While it make take us some time to firmly establish who shot down a plane filled with innocents, most Council members and most members of the international community have been warning for months about the devastation that would come if Russia did not stop what it started — if it did not reign in what it unleashed. The context for yesterday’s horror is clear: separatist forces backed by the Russian Government continue to destabilize Ukraine and undermine the efforts of Ukraine’s elected leaders to build a democratic Ukraine that is stable, unified, secure and able to determine its own future.
Russia says that it seeks peace in Ukraine, but we have repeatedly provided the Council with evidence of Russia’s continued support to the separatists. Time after time, we have called on the Russian Government to de-escalate the situation by stopping the flow of fighters and weapons into Ukraine, pressing separatists to agree to a ceasefire and release all hostages, and support a road map for negotiations. Time after time, President Putin has committed to working towards dialogue and peace — in Geneva in April, in Normandy in June and in Berlin earlier this month — and every single time he has broken that commitment.
Here is what we know. In the past few weeks, Russia has increased the number of tanks, armoured vehicles and rocket launchers in south-west Russia. More advanced air defence systems have also arrived. Moscow recently transferred Soviet- era tanks and artillery to the separatists, and several military vehicles crossed the border. After recapturing several Ukrainian cities last weekend, Ukrainian officials discovered caches of weapons long associated with Russian stockpiles, including MANPADs, mines, grenades, meals ready to eat, vehicles and a pontoon bridge. Ukrainian forces have discovered large amounts of other Russian- provided military equipment, including accompanying documentation verifying Russian origin, in the areas they have liberated from separatists in recent days. Recruiting efforts for separatist fighters are expanding inside Russia, and separatists have openly said that they were looking for volunteers with experience in operating heavy weapons such as tanks and air defences. Russia has allowed officials from the Donetsk People’s Republic to establish a recruiting office in Moscow. Ukrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko, who has long had a distinguished career in the Ukrainian military, was taken by separatists in mid-June. She is now being held — where? — in a prison in Voronezh, Russia. According to the Ukrainian Government, she was transferred to Russia by separatists. Russia continues to redeploy new forces extremely close to the Ukrainian border. In addition, on Monday, a Ukrainian air force cargo plane was shot down in Ukrainian air space, and on Wednesday a Ukrainian fighter jet was also shot down in Ukrainian air space. In both instances, the Ukrainian Government believes that the planes were fired on from Russian territory.
It is because of such continued destabilizing Russian actions that the United States imposed sanctions on the defence, energy and financial sectors of the Russian economy, including financial institutions. The measures include freezing the assets of Russian defence companies and blocking new financing of some of Russia’s most important banks and energy companies. The sanctions are significant, but they are also targeted and designed to have the maximum impact on the Russian calculus while limiting the impact on the Russian people and any spillover effects on our interests or those of our allies. This week, the European Union also announced expanded sanctions on Russia.
The message is unified and clear: if President Putin continues to choose escalation over de-escalation, the international community will continue to impose costs on Russia. But that is not what any of us want. We and our allies remain committed to a diplomatic solution, as are the Ukrainian Government and the Ukrainian people, who have seen their neighbours, friends and family members killed in a needless conflict.
President Poroshenko has consistently backed up his words with actions. He proposed a comprehensive peace plan and declared a unilateral ceasefire, both of which were cynically rejected by the illegal armed groups and their backers in Moscow. President Poroshenko’s plan offered amnesty to separatists who voluntarily laid down their arms and who are not guilty of capital crimes. He committed to providing a safe corridor for Russian fighters to return to Russia. He established a job-creation programme for the affected areas, made an offer of broad decentralization and dialogue with eastern regions, including the promise of early local elections, and granted increased local control over language, holidays and customs. President Poroshenko has also reached out to the regions of eastern Ukraine and is pursuing constitutional reforms that will give local regions more authority to choose their regional leaders and protect locally spoken languages. He has said that he will meet with separatists in any safe location, inside or outside Ukraine.
The goal of the United States throughout the crisis in Ukraine has been consistent, namely, to support a stable, peaceful and democratic Ukraine. We will not be satisfied with a temporary halt to violence. Russia must stop destabilizing Ukraine and allow all the people of Ukraine to decide their country’s future through a democratic political process. As we sit here, the remains of nearly 300 people — innocent infants, children, women and men — are strewn across a blackened, smouldering landscape in Ukraine. The victims came from at least nine different nations; they could just as easily have come from any of ours. We must treat all of them as our own victims. We have a duty to each and every one of those individuals, their families and their countries to determine why that jet fell out of the sky and to hold the perpetrators accountable. We must stop at nothing to bring those responsible to justice.
This appalling attack occurred in the context of a crisis that has been fuelled by Russian support for separatists through arms, weapons and training, by the Russian failure to follow through on its commitments and by its failure to adhere to the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter. The tragedy only underscores the urgency and the determination with which we insist that Russia immediately take concrete steps to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, support a sustainable ceasefire and follow the path towards peace that the Ukrainian Government has consistently offered. This war can be ended. Russia can end this war. Russia must end this war.
Mr. Baublys (Lithuania): We are deeply shocked by yesterday’s downing of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 in eastern Ukraine. We express our sincere condolences to Malaysia, the Netherlands, Australia, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, the Philippines, Canada and the other nations whose citizens were among the 298 people who perished. Our deepest sympathies go to the families of the victims.
The circumstances of the downing must be established by an independent, international investigaton, in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines. The perpetrators cannot escape responsibility. Investigators must immediately be granted access to the crash site and the black boxes must be handed over to independent authorities in order to prevent the evidence being tampered with.
The circumstances are impossible to ignore. They all point in one direction, namely, that this horrible crime was committed as part of the armed aggression against Ukraine. The responsibility for that terror act lies with those who are aggressively preventing Ukraine from effectively exercising its sovereign rights over its territory and airspace. It would not have happened had Russia not armed and instigated the presence of separatist groups in Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. The international community cannot stand by in the face of such aggression. The country has become a threat to international peace and security. We have said that all along since the occupation of Crimea.
The debris of the Malaysian plane lies in an area controlled by pro-Russian separatists. This week alone, a Ukrainian AN-26 cargo plane and an Su-25 fighter jet were shot down by pro-Russian separatists from a high altitude. The third — a Malaysian passenger plane — was deliberately shot down. An Il-76 transport plane and half a dozen helicopters were brought down by pro-Russian separatists at Luhansk airport and elsewhere. In June, separatists boasted of possessing an SA-11 Buk missile system. They claimed to have used the system to shoot down the An-26 cargo plane at high altitude. Separatist commander Igor Strelkov claimed to the media to have shot down another aircraft at the same time as the Malaysian Airlines flight was overflying the area.
We are truly shocked by the number of victims among the civilian population in eastern Ukraine. Armed separatists, terrorists and foreign fighters and their supporters bear the responsibility for the deaths and injuries among the civilian population, including children, women and the elderly. The carnage must end. President Poroshenko proposed a peace plan. Ukraine declared a unilateral ceasefire. The agreement in Berlin on 2 July provided a vehicle for talks. Yet separatists and terrorists in the eastern part of Ukraine continued to sow terror, loot, rob banks, racketeer, kidnap people and traffic in human beings.
The massive and continuous influx of foreign fighters from across the Russian border into the neighbouring Luhansk and Donetsk regions has gone unabated. That influx has been accompanied by T-65 tanks, Grad multiple rocket launchers, anti-aircraft guns, towed anti-tank guns, BTR armoured personnel carriers, man-portable air defence systems and small arms. In fact, the terrorists in Donbas hardly bothered to remove the markings of Russian military units from their heavy weapons. Russian military helicopters and drones violate Ukrainian airspace, while 40,000 troops are encamped within minutes of the Ukrainian border, in addition to the 20,000 troops stationed in occupied Crimea. Russian citizens, many of whom are veterans of the conflicts in Chechnya and Transdnistria, lead many of the terrorist groups.
The Russian media channels are putting out ongoing anti-Ukrainian propaganda. The mouthpiece of the separatists, Life News, boasts of the agility of rebels to shoot down any plane in sight. The terrorists and separatists continue to take hostages. The abducted and hooded Ukrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko was trafficked by separatists from Ukraine straight to the Russian Voronezh pretrial detention centre. We condemn the unlawful detention of Ukrainian citizens in Russia. Russia must respect the norms of international law and release Savchenko immediately. We remain appalled by the deteriorating human rights situation in Crimea.
Lithuania urges the holding of a full, thorough and independent investigation into the downing of the Malaysian Airlines flight, as agreed today by the Council. Lithuania urges Russia to unequivocally distance itself from any kind of direct or indirect support for terrorists, separatists and foreign fighters. The insurgents must lay down their weapons. Lithuania calls on Russia to cooperate with Ukraine in order to ensure the security of the borders and to prevent weapons and armed terrorists from entering the territory of Ukraine. We call on Russia to constructively cooperate on the implementation of the peace plan put forward by President Petro Poroshenko. A diplomatic solution is possible. Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, including Crimea, are non-negotiable and must be respected by all.
Mr. Liu Jieyi (China) (spoke in Chinese): I would like to thank Under-Secretary-General Feltman for his briefing.
China is shocked and grieved by the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 in eastern Ukraine. On behalf of the Chinese Government and people, I express our sincere condolences and deep sympathy to the victims and their families.
The safety of international civil aviation must be guaranteed. Our priority now is to establish the facts. Pending that, it is not advisable to jump to any conclusion, make any assumptions or trade accusations. We support the holding of an independent, fair and objective investigation into the incident. We also call on all parties to coordinate and cooperate during the investigation.
The recent situation in Ukraine remains turbulent. Armed conflict and incidents of violence frequently occur, causing loss of life and destruction of property. China is deeply concerned about the situation. We hope that the parties concerned will take into account the well-being of the entire population of Ukraine, focus on maintaining regional peace and stability, stay calm and exercise restraint to prevent the further escalation of the conflict and confrontation.
The crisis in Ukraine is rooted in a complex situation that is both historical and contemporary. A political solution is the only way out. China notes the recent constructive efforts of the parties concerned to achieve a ceasefire through dialogue and to promote a political solution. We hope that the parties concerned will remain committed to dialogue and negotiations, take the rights and aspirations of all regions and etnic groups of Ukraine fully into account and bear in mind the legitimate concerns of all the parties involved so that the rights of all parties can be respected in a balanced way. We urge the parties concerned to effectively implement the agreed ceasefire and to strengthen dialogue and consultation on the basis of the Geneva agreement in pursuit of a political solution and the prompt achievement of stability and development in Ukraine.
China respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, including Ukraine. China will continue to adopt a fair and objective approach and actively participate in any proposal or initiative that will reduce tension and promote a political solution. We will play a constructive role in that process.
Ms. King (Australia): The downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 in Ukrainian territory on 17 July has shocked the world. We have witnessed the tragic death of 298 people. There were 28 Australians on board Flight MH-17. Our nation is in mourning for all the victims. The news that the lives of 80 children were lost is devastating. Tomorrow, flags will be flown at half- mast across Australia. We extend our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the families of all the victims of the tragedy and to their countries of nationality. Our particular thoughts are with the Governments and the people of the Netherlands and Malaysia.
There is mounting evidence that the crash was caused by a missile strike and that the aeroplane was brought down over territory not controlled by the Ukrainian authorities. There is increasing credible information that that was conducted by separatist militia groups, acting with the assistance of others. We owe it to the victims of this tragedy and their families to unequivocally establish the facts behind the incident and to find out exactly what happened and who is responsible. If, as appears increasingly likely, Flight MH-17 was brought down by a missile, then that is, as Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said, “an unspeakable crime”, and the perpetrators must be brought swiftly to justice.
There must be a full, thorough and impartial international investigation. We thank Under-Secretary- General Feltman for his message that the United Nations is fully prepared to cooperate with any investigation and that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has offered its investigative capacity. We also welcome Mr. Feltman’s information that ICAO and the Government of Ukraine are communicating on the issue of an investigation.
There must be immediate preservation of the crash site, and unfettered access for independent investigators. Safe access must also be provided to allow fro the recovery of the bodies of those who lost their lives in the tragedy. Undertakings brokered by the trilateral contact group with armed separatists who control the territory in which the crash occurred to allow access must be upheld. Our Prime Minister has made it clear that Russia’s full cooperation with all investigations is expected.
The Council has just issued a press statement calling for investigation, accountability and immediate access to the crash site. That is welcome, but Australia believes, given the gravity of the incident, that it is not a sufficient indication of the Council’s resolve. Australia believes the Council should adopt a draft resolution that emphasizes the need for access to be granted to the crash site and for a full, thorough, independent and international investigation to be carried out.
This is the nineteenth time that the Council has met to discuss the situation in Ukraine since the crisis began. Time and time again, the overwhelming majority of the Security Council has called for a end to the violence and destablization. Council members have consistently called for a de-escalation of tensions, for separatists to lay down their weapons and for genuine dialogue to commence. It is time for the equivocation and dissembling and false narratives of some to stop.
In the three weeks since the Council last discussed the situation in Ukraine (see S/PV.7205), the security situation in the east has become increasingly dire. Separatists have ignored repeated calls to disarm and have continued their attacks on Ukrainian military forces, facilities and border posts. Two Ukrainian military cargo planes were downed in eastern Ukraine in the past week alone. The Ukrainian armed forces have responded firmly to those attacks. They has every right to restore law and order, and they have underlined their commitment to do so in proportionate manner.
Russia has a crucial role to play in de-escalating this persistently dangerous crisis. It must end its provocations and any support for separatist forces. It must control its border with Ukraine and prevent the flow of weapons, equipment and fighters from Russia into Ukraine. Russia must withdraw the large number of troops it has again amassed on the Ukrainian border. It must actively work to de-escalate tensions and use its considerable influence with separatist groups in Ukraine to that end.
Further political efforts are essential. The four- party talks in Berlin in the past two weeks showed some promise. The parties agreed on the need for a sustainable ceasefire, the resumption of the contact group, control of border crossing points monitored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and an extension of the work of the OSCE observer mission to include border monitoring activities. But we have yet to see results; those efforts must be redoubled.
We thought that the situation in Ukraine had already caused too much tragedy. The horrific loss of Flight MH-17 has added immeasurably to that toll. It is time for the international community to stand as one to ensure that those responsible for that tragic crime are held to account and to make every effort to bring to an end the violence and destabilization in Ukraine.
Ms. Lucas (Luxembourg) (spoke in French): I also thank the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, for his briefing.
At the start of my remarks, I wish to express, on behalf of the Government and the people of Luxembourg, my most sincere condolences to the families and relatives of the 298 people aboard the Malaysia Airlines aircraft that crashed yesterday afternoon near the village of Grabovo in eastern Ukraine. Among the victims was a Dutch-English family living in Luxembourg. Our sympathy also goes out to the Governments and the peoples of the Netherlands, Malaysia, Germany, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Indonesia, New Zealand, the Philippines and the United Kingdom.
The international community owes it to the victims to shed light on the circumstances that led to this tragic event. A transparent and independent comprehensive international investigation must be completed as soon as possible. Safe and unhindered access must be granted to international investigators, as well as to observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and representatives of affected countries. All parties involved should fully cooperate to that end. We commend the Ukrainian authorities in that regard. Those who committed this heinous act must be held accountable.
This air disaster took place in a context of the ongoing deterioration of the situation in the east of Ukraine. Day after day, we receive reports of civilians killed in fighting between the Ukrainian armed forces and illegal armed groups. The pro-Russian separatist militias continue to occupy buildings and border posts, hold dozens of innocent people hostage and threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. The living conditions of people living in areas affected by the hostilities continue to deteriorate, and the number of internally displaced persons has steadily increased.
The escalation of violence in recent days, until its tragic climax yesterday, demonstrates once again that active armed groups in eastern Ukraine are actually well-equipped and well-trained paramilitary forces who enjoy clear external support.
We urge the Russian Federation to actively use its influence on the illegal armed groups and ensure that weapons and fighters can no longer cross the border, in order to bring about a de-escalation as soon as possible.
Throughout the past few months, Ukraine has demonstrated its commitment to finding a peaceful solution to the crisis and to implementing the agreements concluded, in particular the joint declaration adopted on 17 April in Geneva between Ukraine, Russia, the European Union and the United States. Ukraine has established a national dialogue and guarantees for national minorities. Once elected, President Poroshenko put forward a comprehensive peace plan and put in place a unilateral ceasefire to create the conditions necessary for its implementation. Unfortunately, illegal armed groups, whose sole aim is to destabilize Ukraine, chose not to take that outstretched hand.
Diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in eastern Ukraine must continue. In that regard, the personal commitment of the Secretary-General since the beginning of the crisis is essential and must continue.
It is important to urgently reach an agreement on a real and lasting ceasefire that is observed by all parties, so as to create the conditions necessary for the implementation of President Poroshenko’s peace plan.
We welcome the efforts made in that regard by France, Germany and the OSCE to promote dialogue between Russia and Ukraine. We sincerely hope that those efforts will contribute to a de-escalation and put an end to a crisis that has gone on for too long. Yesterday’s plane crash demonstrated the incalculable consequences that the crisis can have. It is high time for all stakeholders, including the Russian Federation, to mobilize all energies to put an end to this crisis.
Mr. Araud (France) (spoke in French): I thank Mr. Feltman for his briefing.
I wish to extend my deepest condolences to all the Permanent Representatives of the countries that lost citizens in this tragic event. I would like in particular to extend our condolences to our colleagues from the Netherlands and Malaysia. We also mourn with the people of the Netherlands.
Yesterday a Malaysia Airlines flight with nearly 300 passengers aboard crashed in the separatist-controlled area of Ukraine, and the French President expressed his enormous sorrow at the announcement of the disaster. Today I reiterate France’s solidarity with the victims’ families in the ordeal they are experiencing.
Given this tragedy and the already chaotic situation, France requests that all efforts be brought forth to shed light on the circumstances that led to the tragedy. We call for an independent international inquiry that would allow the facts to be established and to draw the necessary conclusions.
We ask that all measures be taken to facilitate the work of the investigators on the ground. In particular, we expect the separatists to cooperate with the Ukrainian authorities in the investigation and to allow safe, immediate and full access to the investigators, in accordance with the decision made yesterday during the video tele-conference between the contact group involving Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the separatist representatives.
A glimmer of hope had begun to dawn in Ukraine at the end of last month. With the election of Mr. Poroshenko, a process of political normalization had begun. A unilateral ceasefire, declared by Kiev on 20 June, hinted at a possible end to the general deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the east. On that same day, President Poroshenko initiated a comprehensive peace plan in order to arrive at a peaceful resolution of the situation.
Furthermore, following their meeting on the sidelines of the ceremonies marking the Normandy landing, a process of almost daily exchanges between Presidents Poroshenko and Putin and Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande led to the start of a useful dialogue. Moreover, a joint statement was adopted in Berlin on 2 July that provided for the quest of a lasting ceasefire via the meeting between the contact group and the separatists, strengthened border control on the Russian-Ukrainian border to curb the flow of weapons and fighters, and the agreement of the OSCE to participate in that effort.
Nevertheless, today the situation continues to deteriorate. For several days, fighting has escalated in eastern Ukraine because the separatists have refused to clasp the hand being extended to them. Every day the attacks are ever more deadly. Weapons never used until now have begun to be used and have struck Ukrainian territory. Two Ukrainian planes were shot down in their own airspace. That could happen only if one of the parties possessed sophisticated anti-aircraft weaponry. Moreover, this unprecedented deterioration is also due to the presence of armed fighters coming from outside Ukraine. The question of outside support in terms of recruitment, supplies of materials and training cannot be avoided. The answer is too obvious. It is irrefutable.
Weapon systems with significant firepower are being used, which can lead to tragic blunders. Those who are responsible for arming those who use those weapons bear the responsibility for this conflagration. As I said in an earlier statement, when bandits are given weapons we cannot be surprised that they behave like bandits.
All those events point to the pressing need for full cooperation by the international community in order to stabilize Ukraine and ensure its sovereignty and territorial integrity. We also call for a sincere commitment from Russia, one that so far has been lacking. The day before yesterday, the Heads of State and Government of the European Union acknowledged that the many appeals made to Moscow to end its non-cooperative stance had not been heard. That is the reason for the European Union’s decision to impose tougher sanctions.
However, the strengthening of those sanctions has one and the same goal: to facilitate the emergence of a political solution. Our priority remains, first, to end the escalation and establish a lasting ceasefire that is respected by all parties. That is why we call on Russia to engage constructively in that endeavour and to bring its influence to bear on the illegal armed groups to lay down their arms and engage in dialogue.
Separatist activity must end. In order to slow down the flow of weapons and fighters that cross through the Russian-Ukrainian border on a daily basis, we call for negotiations between Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE in order to allow the rapid deployment of a monitoring mission at the border.
Let this tragedy at least serve as a warning to all the parties. Once the bullets have been shot, they strike indiscriminately and escape all control. We have reached such moment. It should still be possible to avoid the worst.
Mr. Omaish (Jordan) (spoke in Arabic): Jordan expresses its deep regret over the criminal incident that led to the downing of the Malaysia Airline aircraft over eastern Ukraine yesterday. We also express our deepest condolence to the Government of Malaysia and to all the families of the victims who were killed in that disastrous incident.
Jordan calls for an independent, full and comprehensive investigation of yesterday’s incident, including the participation of the relevant Ukrainian authorities and cooperation with other relevant authorities, including the Malaysian authorities.
The Jordanian Government is gravely concerned over the deteriorating situation in eastern Ukraine, which has taken a new and very dangerous turn following yesterday’s events. Previously, Jordan expressed its great concern for the deteriorating situation in eastern Ukraine. We hereby reaffirm our call for all influential parties in Ukraine to act in order to end the deterioration, to exert pressure on the insurgents to disarm and to withdraw from the facilities and buildings they are occupying, and to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in order to restore stability to eastern Ukraine. We also call for a guarantee that the displaced people can return to their homes as soon as possible.
Jordan urges all the parties to the Geneva statement and the Berlin joint declaration to abide by their provisions. We call upon all the relevant parties to facilitate the work of the United Nations human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine, especially in eastern Ukraine.
Jordan reaffirms the importance of respecting the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
In conclusion, we urge the Ukrainian Government to continue its efforts aimed at promoting the political participation of all Ukrainians and ensuring the full implementation of international conventions on human rights while taking into consideration the concerns of minorities and non-Ukranian speakers.
Mrs. Perceval (Argentina) (spoke in Spanish): I would like to thank Mr. Jeffrey Feltman for his briefing on the latest events in Ukraine and for expressing the constant willingness of the Secretary-General to contribute to peace and dialogue.
The Government and the people of Argentina express their profound sadness, pain, solidarity and deepest condolences to the families of the victims of yesterday’s tragic Malaysia Airlines crash. We also express our condolences to the people and the Government of Ukraine and to the Governments and the peoples of the other countries whose citizens lost their lives. In particular, we ask that our colleagues among the Permanent Representatives of the countries whose citizens were aboard that flight convey our condolences to the families, especially to those who saw the hopes for their children’s futures extinguished.
The severity of this event clearly demands action. Like our colleagues, Argentina calls for an impartial international investigation that objectively and unequivocally establishes what happened. Responsibility and the facts must be determined as soon as possible, and investigators must be granted immediate, unhindered access.
Although it is not today’s topic, I should like to say that, while there had been encouraging indications that the crisis in Ukraine was entering a phase of waning tension, fears that violent confrontation would continue have not dissipated. But the topic today does involve calling once again for the armed groups to cease their violence and demanding that they halt unilateral actions and their violations and trampling of human rights, which do nothing but deepen the crisis and worsen the situation, especially for the civilian population and for the innocent.
We reiterate the need to safeguard due respect for Ukraine’s conduct of its internal affairs without interference — whether military, political or economic — in matters under its jurisdiction. Argentina seeks to promote full respect by everyone for the principles of international law and human rights law as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.
These are sad and difficult times. Argentina therefore calls for prudence. We will not join in using the language of geopolitical disputes. We will not join in a pointless blame game. This is a time for sorrow, reflection and an urgent search for the truth behind the incident to determine those responsible. May the victims rest in peace.
Mrs. Ogwu (Nigeria): I first want to say to our colleagues whose citizens were involved that we convey our deepest condolences to their families, citizens and Governments.
Yesterday at noon, the world watched in horror the downing of the Malaysian jetliner. What happened yesterday seemed to be an apocalyptic end to the world.
I think Ambassador Power described it similarly. The spectacle is graphically described, respectively, in chapters 8 and 9 of the Book of Revelation: “hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the Earth”, “the sun and the air were darkened”. That was what I saw yesterday.
No matter our religious beliefs, that scenario may become a self-fulfilling prophesy if States continue to choose to open or support theatres of war and conflict in every corner of the world. What will happen is that the world will self-annihilate. Enough is enough.
The fact that this incident occurred as the plane flew over eastern Ukraine, which, for some time now, has been a zone of conflict, indicates that the accident may be connected, in one way or another, to the conflict. But this is not the time to play the blame game.
If it is established that the plane was shot down deliberately, it will mark a new dimension in the Ukraine crisis, one that represents a grave threat to the safety of international civil aviation.
At this point, it is of critical importance for the facts surrounding the crash to be dispassionately well- ascertained. In that regard, we would like to express our full support for an independent international investigation, as called for by the Secretary-General.
Noting that the plane went down in an area under the control of armed rebel groups, we urge that those groups cooperate fully and unconditionally with the investigation into the crash.
We have no doubt that, without the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the widespread insecurity and lawlessness engendered by the activities of the rebel groups in the eastern part of the country, this tragic accident would not have occurred.
We want to renew our call for a cessation of hostilities in Ukraine and a return to dialogue and negotiation, within the framework of the Geneva statement of 17 April and the 2 July four-party talks in Berlin.
Let us together resolve this issue. Let us together close this war front, before its reverberations become manifest in other parts of the world.
Mr. Churkin (Russian Federation) (spoke in Russian): First, we would like to express our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and friends of the passengers and crew of the Malaysia Airlines flight that crashed in Donetsk, as well as to the Governments of the countries whose citizens were on the list of victims of the tragedy.
An open and impartial investigation of the incident is necessary. There must be no pressure placed on the investigation, or attempts to prejudge its outcome through broad statements or unfounded allegations. Given the complexity of the situation, we believe it would be proper to establish an international commission under the aegis of International Civil Aviation Organization.
I am certain that any normal person would, first and foremost, ask the question as to what led a Ukrainian aviation dispatcher to send a passenger flight through an area of military clashes — an area being used to carry out strikes against civilian targets, among others, and where anti-aircraft systems were operating. In line with international standards, ensuring the security of civilian aviation in a State’s airspace is that State’s responsibility. The State over whose territory a flight is planned must provide the information necessary to ensure the safety of aviation.
International law provides for a State’s timely ability to close off areas deemed dangerous for flights. It would seem that an investigation is necessary not only of the disaster, but also of the extent to which Ukrainian aviation authorities carried out their obligations to exercise the relevant law and did everything necessary to ensure that Kyiv’s military campaign prevented disasters. Today Kyiv announced the full closure of its airspace to conduct a so-called anti-terrorist operation. Why could that not have been done earlier, instead of waiting for there to be hundreds of victims?
During our previous meeting on Ukraine (see S/PV.7205), some Western members of the Council talked about the restraint exercised by the Kyiv authorities in using force. They have fully demonstrated that “restraint” now. There have been indiscriminate air strikes, rocket fire and attacks by artillery tanks in Donetsk and Luhansk. This punitive operation is becoming increasingly destructive for the civilian population and infrastructure. Dozens of civilians have been killed, including children. Transport systems, community facilities and medical centres have been destroyed.
According to data of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are more than 4.5 million people in eastern Ukraine in the area of the clashes. However, Kyiv has not evacuated civilians from those areas. Instead, people must risk their lives to flee the areas of military clashes by themselves. There are many reports of people being intentionally targeted by the Ukrainian armed forces as they flee the war, in particular to seek refuge in Russia. To date, Russia has hosted more than 110,000 refugees from eastern Ukraine. That figure continues to grow daily. Those facts have been confirmed by UNCHR.
In that regard, six Russian regions have declared a state of emergency. Artillery and mortar shelling by the Ukrainian armed forces into Russian territory has become a regular occurrence. The targets include border crossing points and peaceful civilians. Our citizens have been killed and wounded. We consider those provocations acts of aggression on the part of Ukraine against Russian citizens and against its sovereign territory. We place all blame on the Kyiv authorities and call for the Ukrainian side to take decisive measures to prevent such incidents in future.
We have repeatedly issued warnings about the danger of trying to resolve the political crisis in Ukraine by force. We called for a mutually respectful and inclusive dialogue among all major political forces, Kyiv and the regions. However, the Kyiv authorities have chosen the wrong the path at every turn, with the support of its Western colleagues. I am talking about the United States, of course, which pushed Kyiv to escalate the crisis. They are trying to lay the blame on Russia for the catastrophe caused by the course chosen.
Kyiv cast aside the agreement of 21 February and the road map proposed by the Chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The Geneva statement of 17 April and the Berlin declaration of 2 July were also dismissed, although representatives from the Kyiv Government took part in drafting them. The widely acclaimed peace plan of President Poroshenko became the pretext for military preparations and the deployment of a large-scale punitive operation.
The Kyiv authorities have chosen to suppress dissent. Immediately after the February uprising, Kyiv began to call dissenters “bandits” and “terrorists”, and then “subhumans” and “insects”. Was it fortuitous that on Channel 5, the Ukrainian television channel owned by Mr. Poroshenko, a commercial was aired showing the stamping out of insects with a map of eastern Ukraine in the background? Protesters have been massacred in Mariupol and Odesa. The number of victims continues to rise and no genuine investigation has been carried out. Dozens of people who politically opposed Kyiv have disappeared.
The promised reform of the Constitution is being prepared in secret. It appears that Kyiv would like to enlist the support of European structures and then give it to its lucky people. Indeed, according to reports, the redistribution of powers from the President to the Parliament, which was the source of the fighting in Maidan for months, is not actually being planned for. Is it any wonder that violence has been the result of such strategy? The political representatives of those regions are well known. They have long been a part of Ukraine’s political life, and have come to the forefront through the protest movements in recent months. Involving them in the dialogue would prevent a further escalation of the current serious crisis, but instead Kyiv chose to arrest, beat and threaten them.
With regard to the Ukrainian crisis, international institutions have not risen to the occasion. The reason lies with our Western partners. Much has been said, but nothing has been done to resolve the situation. We are working hard in the OSCE. In the Security Council, the Russian delegation proposed three times the serious drafting of a resolution that would put an end to the violence in Ukraine. But Western colleagues responded to our proposals with blatant cynicism. It seems that whatever the Ukrainian Government arbitrarily does is judged favourably, but the victims of the geopolitical ambitions of the Ukrainian regime are actually an entire nation — the people of Ukraine.
The punitive operation in eastern Ukraine must be stopped immediately. Negotiating a resolution to the crisis is still possible, but the right choice must be made.
Mr. Barros Melet (Chile) (spoke in Spanish): On behalf of my country, I would like to begin by expressing our outrage at the attack carried out yesterday in which Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 was shot down in eastern Ukraine, killing 298 people, including children. We condemn that act in the strongest terms, and we extend our sympathy and condolences to the victims’ family members and to the Governments whose citizens were among the victims. No cause can justify an act of that magnitude and cruelty.
We are closely following the information that is emerging about what happened. In that context, we call for carrying out a comprehensive, transparent and independent investigation in accordance with international civil aviation standards, in order to ensure accountability. It is also necessary that all facilities be provided and security be ensured for the immediate access of investigators to the crash site in order to determine its cause with certainty.
There can be no impunity for this type of act. Its perpetrators must face justice. The victims’ family members have the right to know the truth. We therefore call upon all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and the relevant Security Council resolutions, to actively cooperate with the relevant authorities.
The downing of this aircraft, in an area where there is a high level of political tension, increases the danger of escalating the current violence and drawing new actors into the fray. Therefore, more than ever, we emphatically call on the parties to exercise the utmost restraint in order to contain the crisis in eastern Ukraine.
Mr. Oh Joon (Republic of Korea): I would like to thank Under-Secretary-General Feltman for his briefing on the tragic incident in Ukraine.
The Republic of Korea expresses its utmost shock and outrage at the downing of the Malaysia Airlines passenger plane in eastern Ukraine yesterday. We deplore the loss of nearly 300 innocent civilian lives aboard that commercial airliner. On behalf of the people and the Government of the Republic of Korea, I extend my deepest condolences to the people and Governments of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the Philippines and the United Kingdom and other affected countries. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims at this difficult time.
A thorough and independent international investigation, involving, among others the International Civil Aviation Organization, must be conducted immediately. Whoever is responsible for the tragedy must be held fully accountable. If this incident turns out to have been caused by a deliberate attack, the Republic of Korea, itself a former victim of hostilities against a civilian airlines, believes that the international community should do everything in its power to bring the perpetrators to justice as quickly as possible. No one should be allowed, for any reason, to get away with killing so many innocent people, who had nothing to do with what is happening on the ground.
We support the ongoing efforts to bring stability to Ukraine, in particular the efforts of the United Nations, the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and bilateral partners. Such efforts, aimed at de-escalating the violence in eastern Ukraine, should continue despite the daunting challenges.
The President: I shall now make a statement in my capacity as the representative of Rwanda.
I thank Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary- General for Political Affairs, for his availability and for his detailed briefing, prepared on such short notice.
Allow me, first of all, to express my deep sorrow over the loss of the 298 lives, including 80 children, who were killed on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17, which was shot down in eastern Ukraine. On behalf of the Government of Rwanda, I express my deepest condolences to the families who lost loved ones, as well as to the people and the Governments of the victims. The loss of those innocent civilians is beyond comprehension. Their lives were cut off in the middle of a crisis on which this very Council has been unable to take action since it began in February.
With the shooting down of a civilian airplane carrying civilians, the Ukrainian crisis is no longer a conflict between the Ukrainian military and armed separatists. The conflict has crossed a red line by endangering all our lives, as if did in the case of the men, women and children from different countries who were aboard Flight MH-17. We condemn in the strongest terms this reckless attack and call for a comprehensive, independent, international investigation in accordance with international guidelines, as agreed in the press statement adopted this morning. Such an investigaton should establish responsibility so that the perpetrators can be held accountable. In that context, we further urge all parties to cease fire, to fully cooperate with the investigation and to grant unhindered access to the crash site in order to allow international investigators to carry out their work.
We note that yesterday’s criminal act follows the downing of a Ukrainian fighter jet on Wednesday and that of a military cargo plane on Monday. The frequent use of surface-to-air missiles during the past few months raises the question of access to such weapons, which, as we have now seen, are capable of downing a civilian airplane flying at over 30,000 feet. Therefore, the Security Council and the broader international community can no longer afford to turn a blind eye on the matter.
It is unfortunate that this tragic event comes at a time when national and regional efforts are under way to find a political and diplomatic solution to the Ukrainian crisis. This act undermines valuable initiatives of the trilateral contact group of senior representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who were making all necessary efforts for a resumption of consultations with separatists in eastern Ukraine. On Tuesday, the group reconfirmed its support for President Petro Poroshenko’s peace plan, as well as its commitment to a sustainable ceasefire, as stated in the joint declaration issued in Berlin on 2 July by the Foreign Ministers of Germany, France, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
In conclusion, let me renew our call to the armed groups to respect the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. They must lay down their weapons and engage in constructive dialogue with the Ukrainian Government. In the same vein, we urge all parties to immediately cease fire and support the ongoing efforts to de-escalate the crisis and bring peace to Ukraine and the region.
The shooting down of a civilian plane in the midst of the conflict in eastern Ukraine is a stark reminder of the moral responsibility of Security Council members to set aside their divisions on this crisis, to hold the perpetrators of this criminal act to account and to uphold their mandate to maintain international peace and security.
The President: I now resume my functions as President of the Council.
I give the floor to the representative of Ukraine.
Mr. Sergeyev (Ukraine): I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for convening this meeting. I also thank Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman for his briefing.
I would like to start by expressing my Government’s sorrow and deep condolences to all the Missions whose citizens were killed in the terrible crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17. Ukraine shares the pain of their loss and grieves with their bereaved families and friends. My country extends its profound sympathy to those affected by the accident. Today, all of Ukraine is mourning. Ukrainians are visiting the Embassies of the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, the Philippines and Canada in order to leave flowers and express their sorrow.
The Ukrainian authorities have already called on international organizations, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, Interpol and others, to undertake a thorough international investigation of the accident. We believe that an impartial investigation will reveal the truth and that all perpetrators will be punished.
Yesterday, the Ukrainian leadership announced a basic version of what happened with the flight: it was an act of terror. The position of our Government is based on converging data from different intelligence and open sources, which show that the aircraft was shot down over territory controlled by terrorists. Two Ukrainian jets were shot down near the same location several days before, with terrorist leaders claiming responsibility for those acts. Intercepted telephone conversations between the terrorist leaders and their coordinator — Russian military intelligence colonel Vasili Geranin — confirm that terrorists are behind this crime. That conversation was recorded, and the Secretariat has promised to convey it to members of the Security Council.
Immediately after the crash, the military leader of the terrorists, Igor Girkin Strelkov, who is of Russian origin, boasting on social networks, commented on having shot down what he believed to be a Ukrainian jet, saying the following.
“In Torez, Ukraine, an AN-26 has been shot down. It is lying somewhere near the Progress coal mine. We have warned everyone not to fly in our skies”.
To target and shoot down an aeroplane at an altitude of as high as 10 kilometres would be possible only by using a sophisticated anti-aircraft system, such as the SA-11 Buk missile system, or a similar system. It has been affirmed both by the radio interception of terrorist leaders and by photographs and video- recordings obtained from citizens of cities in the area, that the terrorists have at least two SA-11 Buk missile systems. The question is, where did they get those sophisticated anti-defence systems? I reiterate that radio interceptions, photographs and the confessions of detained terrorists, including two recently detained Russian citizens who were going to join the terrorists as military experts, state that the Buk system came from Russia. All that and other evidence and information will be provided to the international investigation.
This tragedy would not have been possible if Russia had not supported the terrorists and if a sophisticated anti-aircraft system had not been provided to them from Russia. On many occasions, the Ukrainian Mission to the United Nations has addressed the Security Council and all States Members of the United Nations and has given them information about Russia’s support for the terrorists in eastern Ukraine. Only yesterday, we presented new evidence to United Nations-accredited media. The huge supply of weapons of Russian origin being used by terrorists in Donbas, which has been documented by the Ukrainian intelligence agencies, the media and the general public, is no longer a secret to anyone. A large exhibition of confiscated modern weapons, seized by the Ukrainian military forces from terrorist groups, took place in Kyiv a few days ago. In most cases, the actual military units of the Russian armed forces are specified as the origin of those weapons. The documentation can be accessed on the website of the Ukrainian Mission and from my press conference yesterday, which can be found on the United Nations website.
We have raised our concern several times here in the Chamber that Russian nationals are directly participating in destabilizing the situation in eastern Ukraine. Some colleagues have today given some information about the Luhansk and Donetsk leaders proclaiming republics. All their military commanders are of Russian origin. Illegal armed groups of fighters are stepping up their recruitment efforts within Russia. They seek volunteers with experience in operating heavy weapons, such as tanks and air defence equipment. Russia has allowed the establishment of recruitment offices in Moscow and Rostov, which are openly recruiting and sending Russian nationals to Ukraine’s eastern regions. Yesterday at the press conference, we described all the websites that are calling for recruits. Numerous groups of Russian paramilitary formations, including Russian Cossacks, are actively supporting the terrorists in spreading terror and chaos in the eastern part of Ukraine.
Throughout the entire period of such articifically created confrontations, supported by Russia, that country has never publically called on its citizens to refrain from joining the illegal armed groups operating on the territory of Ukraine. That fact speaks for itself. Paragraph 2 of article 208 of the criminal code of the Russian Federation states the following.
“Participation in armed groups that are not governed by federal law, as well as participation in such armed groups on the territory of a foreign State for any purpose against the interests of the Russian Federation, is punishable by 5 to 10 years’ imprisonment”.
Since no Russian national has been brought to justice for such actions, there is only one conclusion: their participation in illegal armed groups on the territory of Ukraine does not contradict the interests of the Russian Federation.
The situation on the Ukrainian-Russian State border has significantly deteriorated in recent days as a result of systematic violations coming from the Russian side of the border, as well as the provocative actions of armed terrorist groups in the border areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Several times a day, columns of military vehicles and Russian mercenaries attempt to break through the Ukrainian State border from the Russian side. Such attempts are actively facilitated by Russian border protection units. The anti-terrorist forces in Ukraine have been repeatedly shelled from the territory of Russia. Ukraine has documented evidence of all those facts for the appropriate international response.
The number of provocations on the Ukrainian- Russian State border has increased substantially. Illegal armed groups systematically fire towards the territory of Russia in order to create the false image of Ukrainian military fire. That caused the death of a Russian citizen. The Russian side accused the armed forces of Ukraine of shelling on Russian territory on 28 June, namely, Mine No. 24 of Vasetskaya village in the Krasnosulynsky district of the Rostov region and the Gukovo border checkpoint. The Ukrainian armed forces have never attacked or fired on the territory of Russia. All such provocations are committed by pro-Russian terrorists in order to find grounds for a further escalation. Today’s statement by the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, about the possibility of carrying out strikes against the territory of Ukraine sounds like a new provocation.
Today, colleagues have presented some evidence of the deteriorating situation on the Ukrainian-Russian border. Every day during the month of July, we have observed such violations, including the shooting-down of Ukrainian jets. I would like to take this opportunity to once again draw the attention of members of the Security Council to the fact that Russia continues to redeploy new forces extremely close to the Ukrainian border. As of 14 July, the total number of groups of Russian armed forces in the areas bordering Ukraine has significantly increased. They comprise 33 battalion tactical groups, with a total of at least 40,000 troops directly around Ukraine, including up to 18,000 troops in Transnistria and up to 21,000 troops in the occupied territory of Crimea. Those and similar actions constitute a flagrant violation by Russia of its obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and other universally recognized principles and norms of international law. Those actions are incompatible with the obligations of the Russian Federation under the Geneva agreement of 17 April and the Berlin declaration of 2 June.
Despite all the international efforts, supported by the strong Ukrainian will to prevent a further escalation and further strengthened by the President’s peace plan, the foreign terrorists and their Russian supporters have no intention of leaving us in peace or laying down their arms. We are still struggling against high-capacity military saboteurs who are willing to destroy Ukraine and to establish havens for chaos and instability.
Ukraine demands that the Russian side immediately cease provocations on the State border of Ukraine, stop hindering the efforts of the Ukrainian side and the international community to put an end to terrorism and other violence in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, return to President Poroshenko’s peace plan, withdraw its forces from the Ukrainian border and stop threatening peace and security in our country, the region and the world as a whole.
The President: I now give the floor to the representative of Malaysia.
Mr. Haniff (Malaysia): At the outset, allow me to congratulate you, Mr. President, and the Republic of Rwanda on your assumption of the presidency of the Security Council for this month. I thank you, Sir, for convening this emergency meeting of the Council on Ukraine. I also wish to thank Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, for his briefing earlier. For my delegation, the convening of this meeting is indeed timely given the tragic incident involving Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17.
Malaysia is deeply touched by the expressions of condolences, sympathy and support from across the world. At this difficult time, we also wish to express our profound sorrow and convey our deepest sympathy and condolences to the families and friends of those who were aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17.
Malaysia is shocked and distraught by the downing of Flight MH-17. The scheduled flight, which departed Amsterdam yesterday afternoon Amsterdam local time, was expected to arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport this morning. Unfortunately, it crashed near the town of Torez in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.
Two hundred and ninety-eight people perished in the incident. One hundred and eighty-nine of those who perished were from the Netherlands, 44 from Malaysia, 27 from Australia, 12 from Indonesia, 9 from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, 4 from Germany, 4 from Belgium, 3 from the Philippines, 1 from Canada and 1 from New Zealand. The nationalities of four passengers have not yet been verified.
The Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur route, which regularly crosses Ukrainian airspace, was one of Malaysia Airlines most popular routes. According to the International Air Transport Association, at the time that contact with Flight MH-17 was lost, the aircraft was flying over non-restricted air space. Furthermore, the International Civil Aviation Organization had declared the flight path to be safe. Malaysia Airlines also confirmed that the aircraft had not made any distress calls.
The Government of Malaysia has taken immediate action to dispatch a special Malaysia disaster assistance and rescue team to Kyiv. The team includes personnel from the Royal Malaysian Air Force, Malaysia Airlines, the Department of Civil Aviation as well as medical staff. In addition, 40 Malaysia Airlines staff have been despatched to Amsterdam to support the victims’ families and next of kin. In that regard, Malaysia welcomes the pledges of support and assistance made by other countries to aid in the search, rescue, recovery and investigation efforts.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Razak spoke to President Poroshenko of Ukraine, Prime Minister Rutte of the Netherlands, President Obama of the United States of America and President Putin of the Russian Federation. In those conversations, Prime Minister Razak stressed that, if indeed Flight MH-17 had been shot down, the perpetrators must be swiftly brought to justice. Malaysia condemns in the strongest possible terms any such action as a flagrant violation of international law and an outrage against human decency.
Malaysia demands a full, independent and transparent international investigation into the incident, involving the relevant international authorities, including the International Civil Aviation Organization. I wish to inform the Security Council that Malaysia has been formally invited by the Ukrainian authorities to take part in the investigation and that we will be sending two representatives to Kyiv as soon as possible.
We urge the parties in conflict in the area of the crash site to provide the fullest cooperation. Such cooperation also entails facilitating safe and unhindered access for the investigators and humanitarian personnel to carry out their missions, including collecting the relevant data, evidence, remains and personal effects of the victims.
We wish to underscore that there must be no interference at the crash site or any movement of debris from the area, including the flight data recorders, or black boxes. The integrity of the crash site must be preserved. Malaysia also urges the Security Council to undertake the necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian and investigative personnel at the crash site in order for them to discharge their duties and responsibilities.
No further facts have been established at this point, but the fact that the plane might have been shot down has made the matter even more painful for us. Again, this is a grave reminder of how the escalation of disputes and threats to international peace and security can claim innocent lives in a most tragic and senseless manner. In that regard, we urge the Security Council to step up its role in facilitating a peaceful resolution to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine with a view to preventing the recurrence of such a tragic incident.
In conclusion, on behalf of the Government and the people of Malaysia, I wish to reiterate our deep appreciation for all the expressions of support, sympathy and solidarity in this difficult and trying time.
The President: I now give the floor to the representative of the Netherlands.
Mr. van Oosterom (Netherlands): I thank you, Mr. President, for granting me this opportunity to deliver a message from my Minister under these exceptional circumstances. I would like to thank the members of the Security Council for their words of compassion and the condolences expressed by them.
Yesterday almost 300 innocent men, women and children lost their lives aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17, travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when the plane crashed on Ukrainian soil. This horrible event has shocked the world and deeply saddened all countries that have lost compatriots. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who mourn the death of loved ones, wherever their cradle may have stood.
At least 189 victims were Dutch nationals. Today, many thousands in my country, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, grieve for the loss of parents, children, loved ones, friends and co-workers. This is a dark hour in our national history. We are a nation in shock and in tears. But we are also a nation united in our determination to seek the truth about what happened.
We call on all parties that have any influence on the matter to grant unfettered access to the crash site to emergency responders and investigators alike. We call on the Security Council, the world’s highest authority, to mandate a full, thorough and impartial international investigation into the exact circumstances surrounding the crash of Flight MH-17. All the relevant materials recovered from the site, including the airplane’s black boxes, should be made available to the international investigation immediately and without interference.
Should an investigation show that the tragedy is the result of the use of weapons, the Netherlands will condemn that despicable act in the strongest terms and will demand that all those responsible, both directly and indirectly, be held accountable and brought to justice. That is our moral obligation to the memory of the victims, and our duty in the light of international law and justice. My country will not rest until justice is served.
We want to bring the victims’ remains home to their loved ones as soon as possible. We ask the United Nations to help us achieve that. Those who mourn, wherever they may reside, deserve to know what caused the deaths of their loved ones. Our nations deserve to know what happened. The world has a right to know.
The President: I now give the floor to the representative of Indonesia.
Mr. Percaya (Indonesia): I thank the President for convening today’s meeting.
As a matter of priority, on behalf of the Government and the people of Indonesia, I wish to express our deepest condolences to all affected nations, especially our good neighbour Malaysia, over the deaths of the 298 civilian passengers and crew aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17, which crashed yesterday as it was flying over eastern Ukraine. As the Council may be aware, 12 Indonesian citizens were confirmed among the deceased. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims. Allow me also to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the delegations that have expressed their sympathy and condolences to Indonesia.
According to various sources and reports, the airplane was presumably shot down by a surface-to-air missile. If that is indeed the case, such a heinous act is tantamount to a grave violation of international law, in particular international humanitarian law. In that regard, Indonesia calls upon the Security Council to take immediate steps to enable a thorough, transparent and independent international investigation to be conducted upon this horrendous incident.
Indonesia stands ready to join and support such an investigation. If the investigation concludes that the crash was indeed intentionally caused by human factors, be it a missile strike or otherwise, Indonesia demands that the perpetrators of such a heinous and inhuman crime be brought to justice to the fullest extent of the law.
As a precautionary measure, yesterday my President instructed all Indonesian airlines to exercise the utmost caution and to avoid the airspace in and around conflict areas, including that of Ukraine.
In conclusion, as a member of the Association of Southeast Ansian Nations family, Indonesia reiterates its solidarity with the Government and the people of Malaysia, as well as with the countries whose citizens have fallen victim to this tragedy.
The President: I now give the floor to the representative of the Philippines.
Mr. Cabactulan (Philippines): I thank you, Mr. President, for calling this emergency meeting.
It is with great sadness that the Philippines received confirmation that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 had crashed in eastern Ukraine yesterday, 17 July. The downing of MH-17 is a most shocking and confounding event. Aboard that flight were 298 irreplaceable lives. Today we are united in grief. The Philippines conveys its most heartfelt condolences to the families and to the Governments and the peoples who lost their lives in the incident. Today we are united in denouncing this regrettable incident. The Philippines condemns in the strongest possible terms the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
This incident is revolting, in particular in view of troubling and disconcerting reports that the crash was occasioned by a targeted move. The Philippines joins the call to immediately secure the area of the crash site, to launch an independent, transparent and international investigation into the incident and to provide full and safe access to investigators to the scene of the crash to enable them to swiftly conclude and report on the results of the investigation.
The President: I now give the floor to the representative of the Belgium.
Ms. Frankinet (Belgium) (spoke in French): I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for giving me the opportunity to participate in this meeting. I would also like to thank Under-Secretary-General Feltman for his briefing.
On behalf of the Government and the people of Belgium, I would like first to express my most heartfelt condolences to the Government of Malaysia, as well as to the families and friends of the 298 people who were aboard the Malaysia Airlines plane shot down in eastern Ukraine. There were five Belgian nationals among the victims. Our thoughts are with those who mourn today, in particular the friends and families and the Government of the Netherlands, a country close to us.
Like others who preceded me have done, Belgium launches an appeal to all the parties to guarantee full access to the disaster site, not only for the search and rescue teams but also for the investigators. A full, detailed, thorough and impartial international investigation should be conducted to determine the exact circumstances surrounding the MH-17 disaster.
In that regard, Belgium supports the proposal of Australia that the Security Council adopt a draft resolution that stresses the need for guaranteed access to the site and for the conduct of a full, independent international investigation. We owe it to the victims and their families, as well as to ourselves, to shed full light on what happened yesterday in eastern Ukraine.
The President: I now give the floor to the representative of Canada.
Mr. Rischynski (Canada) (spoke in French): I thank you, Mr. President, for this opportunity to take the floor, although this is a day of such great sadness for the entire international community.
(spoke in English)
Canadians are shocked and saddened by the terrible loss of life in the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine. With evidence mounting that the airliner was brought down by a surface-to- air missile, we are increasingly convinced that this is not only a tragedy but also very likely the result of an outrageous crime, perpetrated against hundreds of innocent civilians of many nationalities.
Canada calls on all the parties to the conflict in Ukraine to cooperate fully with an international investigation into the incident. Both Ukrainian authorities and international experts must be permitted full and secure access to the crash site, and must be provided access to all the relevant data and evidence pertaining to the downing of the aircraft. We commend the Government of Ukraine for launching an investigation, and we thank the people of Ukraine for their sincere expressions of condolence to all those affected by this tragedy, including Canada. Canada stands ready to provide whatever support it can to assist authorities in determining the cause of the crash.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was brought down in a region of Ukraine embroiled in armed conflict. This is a conflict generated and perpetuated by Russia’s provocative military actions against the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine. We once again call on Russia to cease its political, financial and material support to armed insurgents in eastern Ukraine. Following the loss of so many lives aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, the grave international consequences of Russian-sponsored violence in eastern Ukraine are now plain for all to see.
The President: I now give the floor to the representative of New Zealand.
Mr. McLay (New Zealand): I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for convening this debate and for allowing New Zealand to make this statement. I will be brief, but discussion of an international incident that brings death to New Zealanders demands some comment.
New Zealand joins with others in expressing its deepest sympathy to the families, friends and colleagues of all those who have died. We also express our solidarity with our close friend Malaysia — indeed, with all the countries whose people have died. Our thoughts and prayers are with them all at this incredibly sad time.
We express outrage at the mounting evidence that this totally unnecessary and avoidable tragedy resulted from a surface-to-air missile strike. If that evidence is confirmed, this is a grave crime that demands an international, thorough, credible and independent investigation. We call in particular for protecting the integrity of the crash site.
New Zealand welcomes the calls for such an investigation — from the Secretary-General, the Security Council and many others. The circumstances of this tragedy, the catastrophic nature of its occurrence and its occurrence in a conflic zone mean that the international community, in particular those like New Zealand and others that have lost nationals, has a right to demand such an investigation. Any party with relevant informaton that can help in that process must offer its proactive assistance and cooperation. Perpetrators must be brought to justice: no qualifications, no ifs, no buts, no maybes.
The situation in Ukraine has now gone beyond dangerous. It now kills people from other parts of the world with no direct involvement in the local conflict. This morning families in New Zealand and many other countries are waking up to the tragic reality that they have lost loved ones to a conflict that threatens international peace and security and demands the ongoing attention of the Council.
The President: I now give the floor to the represntative of Viet Nam.
Mr. Le Hoai Trung (Viet Nam): It was with profound grief that we learned of the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 in eastern Ukraine on 17 July, which caused the tragic loss of the lives of all the passengers and crew members. My delegation has just been informed that, of the four victims whose nationalities had not yet been identified when the Ambassador of Malaysia spoke, three of them are Vietnamese. We would like to convey our deepest sympathy and condolences to the Governments, the peoples and the bereaved families at this moment. As a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Viet Nam stands in solidarity with the Government and the people of Malaysia. The President, the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Viet Nam have conveyed their deepest condolences to the Government and the people of Malaysia.
We call for expeditious, effective and responsible actions by the relevant authorities and parties on behalf of the families of the victims and in order to address other related issues. Viet Nam also requests a prompt and transparent investigation into the incident. We hope that this incident will soon be resolved through efforts and determination by the relevant authorities and parties.
Viet Nam is closely following the situation in Ukraine. We are extremely concerned about the recent complicated developments in the eastern provinces of Ukraine. We sincerely hope that all the parties concerned will exercise restraint and avoid any actions that could aggravate the situation and cause casualties among civilians, while at the same time making efforts through peaceful dialogue to find solutions that ensure the legitimate interests of all parties and to meet the people’s aspirations for peace, stability and development in Ukraine and the region.
The President: There are no more names inscribed on the list of speakers. The Security Council has thus concluded the present stage of its consideration of the item on its agenda.
The meeting rose at 12.15 p.m.