Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at the UNSC Briefing on the Minsk Agreements
Statement18 February 2022
Thank you very much, Mr. President.
I also want to say a special thank you to Under Secretary-General DiCarlo and to Ambassadors Kinnunen and Çevik today for their helpful and informative briefings. And I would like to also recognise the presence of high-level participants at this Council this morning.
As I begin my remarks, it is important that I am clear: Ireland is a steadfast and consistent supporter of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
Ireland believes in and is fully committed to the core principles enshrined in the UN Charter. These include the sovereign equality and territorial integrity of States. Ukraine has the same fundamental right as every other sovereign and independent State to choose its own foreign policy and to ensure the security and defence of its territory. That is a right we hold to be self-evident. It is a right that Ireland struggled to obtain.
As Russia’s military build-up at Ukraine’s border continues to raise tensions, Ireland again calls for calm, de-escalation and the pursuit of diplomacy. We need to see sustained and credible moves on the ground toward de-escalation. Genuine de-escalation will imply a significant withdrawal of both troops and equipment.
We commend all who are engaged in dialogue, including through the Normandy Format and Poland, as OSCE Chair-in-Office, for launching a Renewed European Security Dialogue.
We support urgent, constructive and resolute engagement through all diplomatic channels.
The full implementation of the Minsk Peace Agreements, and the related conflict resolution efforts in the Normandy Format and Trilateral Contact Group, are important priorities for us. There is no doubt that we are now at a sensitive moment. Today, we call on all parties to act constructively within both formats. In this regard, we deeply regret the decision of the Russian State Duma to submit a call to recognise as independent entities the non‑government controlled areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine. This would be a clear violation of the Minsk Agreements. We are also concerned at reports of alleged shelling today in eastern Ukraine, as mentioned by Special Representative Kinnunen, which would also be a violation of the Minsk Agreements.
Mr President, all signatories of the Minsk Agreements agreed on the need for the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission’s safe and secure access to the entire territory of Ukraine.
The mandate of the SMM was agreed by all 57 OSCE participating States. We, therefore, remain very concerned at the continuing restrictions imposed on the SMM’s freedom of movement. We also regret that SMM equipment has been damaged or interfered with. I want to express our deep regret at the decision by the Russian Federation to refuse to extend the mandate of the Border Observation Mission (BOM) to monitor the border crossings.
We commend the tireless efforts of Ambassadors Kinnunen and Çevik in the Trilateral Contact Group. We see the agreement reached by the Group at the end of last year on adherence to the July 2020 ceasefire as an important achievement and a sign that there can be progress if there is genuine political will.
Eastern Ukraine has already endured 8 years of conflict, resulting in humanitarian disaster, serious human rights violations and abuses as reported by the OHCHR.
Just as we know that further conflict is not inevitable, we know too that wherever conflict occurs, it is civilians who bear the brunt. Ireland therefore sincerely calls on all sides to work peacefully toward an effective and sustainable political settlement of the conflict. And to jumpstart that work today.
Thank you, Mr. President.