“Ukrainian blue helmets have participated in UN operations throughout the world. In many cases, they indeed were instrumental in reaching peace – from the Balkans to Africa. Ukraine’s involvement in UN peacekeeping did not halt even at the height of the armed attack on my country by the Russian Federation. But, today we need the UN’s peacekeeping shoulder too,” President Petro Poroshenko said during the high-level open debate of the United Nations Security Council on the Reform of the UN Peacekeeping: Implementation and Follow-up.
The President reminded that in 2014, Russia started an armed aggression against Ukraine and occupied part of its territory.
“The Russia’s mantra that «we are not there» has nothing to do with the reality,” Petro Poroshenko said bringing another evidence of participation of Russian military in the hostilities against Ukrainian warriors in Donbas. “There are undeniable facts that Russia creates, leads, controls and sponsors terrorists operating in Donbas,” the President emphasized and demonstrated IDs of Russian officers and soldiers, some of whom are already in Ukrainian prisons for their illegal actions on the occupation of the Ukrainian land.
The Head of State reminded that a three-year-long Russia’s aggression has cost Ukraine over 10 thousand people killed, about 25 thousand wounded and about 1.8 million internally displaced.
“In order to restore peace in my country, back in spring 2015, I officially requested the President of the Security Council to initiate appropriate procedures for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation in Ukraine. It has since gained additional urgency. The situation is not getting better in the Donbas region,” Petro Poroshenko said and noted that despite repeated cease-fire initiatives, ordinary people continue to suffer.
“The Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine recorded 161 conflict-related civilian casualties in the period from mid-May to August 2017, with 26 deaths and 135 injuries,” the President emphasized.
Just think of these numbers. And this is happening in the heart of Europe in the XXI century! People’s rights to life, liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience continue to be violated on a daily basis. They can be killed for going to a wrong church, speaking a wrong language – or just disagreeing,” the Head of State said.
“If tragedy of this scale doesn’t warrant UN peace presence, than what does?” the President asked the diplomats in the session hall.
“In this regard, I would like to reaffirm my request to this Council to deploy peacekeepers in Donbas – we need to move forward on this track, the sooner – the better,” he said.
Petro Poroshenko welcomes the start of exchange among Council members on the way forward. “Ukraine is ready to participate constructively. I must, at the same time, reiterate that a road to effective peacekeeping – and, eventually, to the settlement – lies through unconditional withdrawal of all foreign military personnel, mercenaries, their weapons and equipment from Ukraine,” the President stressed.
He emphasized that a reliable international control over the temporarily uncontrolled part of the Ukrainian-Russian state border should be secured.
“This is the key, as there can be no success in bringing peace in Donbas without preventing Russian troops, arms, equipment and mercenaries to continue to infiltrate into Donbas,” the Head of State said adding that deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation should restore justice, rather than freeze the conflict and cement the occupation.
“And the justice would be: to restore Ukraine’s sovereignty over its territory. The justice would be: to make sure that no one can take away Ukraine’s freedom,” the President emphasized adding that while designing this mission all UN peacekeeping principles should be observed.
“And we will insist on this throughout the negotiation process, no matter how long will it take,” he stressed.
The President also reaffirmed the invitation to the Secretary-General to exercise his authority under the Charter and to send a Technical Assessment Mission to Ukraine. Based on the mission’s analysis, possible options of the UN political and security presence in Donbas should be elaborated and presented for further consideration to the Security Council.
In conclusion, the Head of State noted that peacekeeping remains one of the effective instruments to make our world a safer and secure place and underscored Ukraine’s unwavering commitment to the UN peacekeeping endeavor.