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Ukraine is key topic of conference confined to Russia's UN Security Council presidency

June 04, 2014, 15:07 UTC+3 UNITED NATIONS

Russia plans to hold 17 meetings behind closed doors, Ukraine, Syria, Israeli-Palestine conflict and Afghanistan on the agenda

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Vitaly Churkin

Vitaly Churkin


UNITED NATIONS, June 04 ./ITAR-TASS/. Events in Ukraine and the situation in Syria were the key topics of the news conference by Russia's Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin, timed with the beginning of Russia's UN Security Council presidency.

Special attention was paid to the draft resolution on Ukraine brought forward by Russia a day before. The document called for stopping violence in the southeast of the country and creating humanitarian corridors to provide assistance to the population.

Churkin was asked if Moscow was ready, for the sake of approval of this document, to give in to the West and vote for the resolution on Syria based on Chapter VII of the UN Charter that provided for introduction of sanctions and use of force.

The diplomat flatly denied the possibility of such an arrangement saying that "there will be no connection" between the talks over the two resolutions.

The Russian delegation will decide on the future of the document on Ukraine in the next few days after consultations with other UN Security Council members, Churkin said.


Opinions differ on Ukraine

According to the Russian envoy, the first exchange of opinions on Monday was uninspiring for the Russian delegation, as several UN Security Council members believed in use of force to settle the Ukrainian crisis. "Furthermore, they encourage Kiev to continue the punitive operation in eastern Ukraine," he said. "We think it is a serious error. The Council, responsible for maintaining international peace and security, should seek peaceful solutions of any issues."

The Russian envoy said that quick adoption of a humanitarian resolution on Ukraine would have a positive impact on the situation in the country. "Although the main purpose of the resolution is to improve conditions for a possible humanitarian operation, it, too, may play a role in stopping violence in Ukraine. If violence continues, we'll be facing the worsening of not only the humanitarian, but also the political situation, which won't bring any good to the new leadership of the country," he warned.

The diplomat regretted the fact that Russia's hopes regarding the election of Petro Poroshenko as Ukraine's new president had not come true yet. "Regrettably, the situation is continuing to worsen: we now see force being used on a larger scale," he said.

Moscow is hoping to see changes after Poroshenko's inauguration ceremony scheduled for June 7. Churkin said that continuing the operation would only complicate the work of the future president if he indeed was focused on ensuring Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Responding to journalists' request, the diplomat commented on the trip to the region of US President Barack Obama, who had arrived in Warsaw on June 3. Churkin said the fact of the visit had no significance and that it was the policy pursued by Washington that was important.

If the policy is aimed "at exploiting the dramatic situation in Ukraine for boosting NATO's strength," it will harm international interaction," he went on.


Humanitarian cooperation in Syria

Speaking about possible adoption of the resolution on the humanitarian situation in Syria, Churkin categorically denied the possibility of its mentioning Chapter VII of the UN Charter. According to the diplomat, such a text would not allow to achieve humanitarian cooperation. Meanwhile, it is precisely this approach that western countries selected in drawing their version of the document, which allowed direct supplies of humanitarian aid to crisis-hit Syrian districts without Damascus' permission.

Russia is continuing the work on its own draft resolution on Syria based on the local truce experience which proved effective in Homs. "We believe that the Security Council should support local truces. They drew a positive opinion of Lahdar Brahimi (who left the post of United Nations and Arab League envoy to Syria on May 31)," Churkin said.

"The discussion of the document is continuing. It is possible that it will lead to concrete results," he said. Contrasting the Russian and western draft resolutions on Syria, the diplomat noted that putting a stop to fighting would help provide the most effective humanitarian assistance to the population.

Russia has a positive opinion of the idea to create humanitarian corridors in Syria. "It is one of the elements of our resolution," Churkin said. He added that signing local ceasefire agreements might envision the establishment of safe routes.


International issues which will be discussed during Russia's UN Security Council presidency

From our point of view, international forces have been unable to fulfil their objective and now are leaving the country when it is unstable. We hope that they will give an account to the UN Security Council before they wrap up their presence Vitaly Churkin Russia's Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations commenting on Afghanistan When talking to journalists, Churkin insisted that they refrain from comparing to Syrian events with the situation in Ukraine. "These are completely different situations which different backgrounds," the diplomat said.

He denied the speculation that the West's support for Kiev authorities made Russia take a tougher stance on the Syrian issue and at the talks over Iran's "nuclear dossier."

The Russian envoy criticized Washington's work in other areas, for example in the Middle East settlement. He reminded that when the United States announced the resumption of Palestinian-Israeli talks in July 2013, it promised a result as early as nine months later. "All this ended in failure, so the USA should take responsibility for this failure, instead of giving new promises to hold some secret talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians which will fail again," the diplomat said.

Russia insists on more active involvement of the "quartet" of international mediators in the Middle East settlement (United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States). "We regard it as an important instrument, especially if the objective is closer interaction with the Arab League," Churkin said.

The Palestinian-Israeli settlement will top the agenda of the Security Council meeting on June 24.

The Russian envoy also criticized US and its allies' actions in Afghanistan, where they had been running a military campaign against al-Qaeda and Taliban militants since 2001. "From our point of view, international forces have been unable to fulfil their objective and now are leaving the country when it is unstable. We hope that they will give an account to the UN Security Council before they wrap up their presence," Churkin said. "We have to think how the international community and the UN can help the Afghan people improve the situation."

Russia is seriously concerned over the schedule of troops withdrawal which was drawn without taking into account the real situation in the country. The Afghan problem will be discussed in detail during open debates at the UN Security Council on June 25.

Presenting the Security Council's work programme for a month, he said it would be "customarily intensive." Aside from 11 open sessions, Russia plans to hold 17 meetings behind closed doors.

On Wednesday, the Security Council is expected to hear a report on Syria's chemical weapons disarmament. In his latest report, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that meeting the June 30 deadline for eliminating poisonous substances was not possible.

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