United Nations, Feb 12 (PTI) India has welcomed all efforts at reducing tension in Eastern Ukraine and expressed hope that all sides will work together constructively to find political and diplomatic solutions to the issue.
“We believe that the Minsk Agreements provide a basis for negotiated and peaceful settlement of the situation in Eastern Ukraine,' India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador K Nagaraj Naidu said while speaking at the UNSC open briefing on the situation in Ukraine on Thursday.
The Minsk agreement, brokered by France and Germany and signed by Russia and Ukraine in February 2015, provides a framework for a negotiated peace in Eastern Ukraine.
The agreement aims to resolve the conflict between Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists that flared in April 2014 after Russia's annexation of Crimea and its support for the separatists in the mostly Russian-speaking industrial east called Donbass.
'We also believe that meetings under the Normandy Format will further facilitate the resolution of the issues related to the implementation of the provisions of the Minsk Agreements, including its key security and political aspects,” Naidu said.
The Normandy Format is a reference to the four-way talks involving leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine.
India welcomes all efforts aimed at reducing tension in the region and hopes that all sides will work together constructively to find political and diplomatic solutions to the issue, Naidu said.
He said when “the parties concerned come to mutually negotiated agreements, such agreements take precedence even over resolutions adopted by the Security Council, particularly since these are not externally imposed but mutually agreed between parties concerned and hence have every chance of success.” Naidu said that peaceful settlement of disputes is an important tool in the maintenance of international peace and security and in the promotion of the rule of law, adding that the States have the responsibility to settle disputes by peaceful means, which is a fundamental principle in the UN Charter.
Briefing the Council, Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo, UN’s political affairs chief, said although a ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine has led to a significant decrease in civilian casualties, the overall situation remains fragile unless progress is made on the security and political fronts.
The ceasefire that came into force last July resulted from a summit held in December 2019 between France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine, and was welcomed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who had earlier appealed for a global ceasefire during the COVID-19 pandemic.
DiCarlo described the truce as a welcome development, together with the release and exchange of detainees, but said challenges remain, including in delivering aid amid the pandemic.
“The fact that the ceasefire has largely held up and that discussions continue in the established formats is no reason for complacency. Nor is it a substitute for meaningful progress. The risk of backsliding is real if negotiations become deadlocked,” she said.
Rodney Hunter, the Political Coordinator in the US Mission to the United Nations, said that in 2014, Russia occupied Crimea and instigated a conflict in the Donbas region.
Russia has blocked meaningful progress in diplomatic negotiations while arming, training, funding, and leading its proxy forces and supporting the self-proclaimed “authorities” on the ground, Hunter said.
Since 2014, Russia’s actions in eastern Ukraine have led to the deaths of more than 13,000 people. Its actions have displaced 1.5 million Ukrainians and left an additional 3.4 million in need of humanitarian assistance, Hunter said.
The US reaffirmed its “unwavering' commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and said it will continue to support the Minsk agreements as the way forward in eastern Ukraine.
“The resolution to this conflict must be a diplomatic one, and one which respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Hunter said.
The United Kingdom said Russia must withdraw its military personnel and weapons from the territory of Ukraine, cease its support for the armed formations it backs and stop access restrictions and intimidation of the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe) Special Monitoring Mission in areas held by its proxies.
Russia’s Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia said that instead of implementing the Minsk Agreements, Kiev keeps telling stories about ongoing Russian aggression – “Ukraine blames everything on it….We know too well that Kiev only pretends to be implementing the Minsk Agreements.” PTI YAS NSA NSA