Remarks at a UN Security Council Meeting Called by Russia on the Minsk Agreements

Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
February 17, 2023


Thank you, Madam President. Assistant-Secretary-General Jenca and Ambassador Sajdik, thank you for your briefings today.

Given how often Russia convenes this Council to regurgitate its false narratives on the past, we cannot help but question whether Russia’s aim is to persuade or to distract. Distract from its bombs and its missiles that are killing Ukrainian civilians and decimating cities in the here and now. The level of cynicism behind this meeting of the Council is astounding. Attempts to distort history do not change the fact that Russia is responsible for its brutal and devastating aggression against Ukraine.

Despite training and leading forces in eastern Ukraine since 2014, Russia has long sought to disguise and deny its role in the conflict. But now, we can clearly see what Russia’s ultimate intentions were in 2014. We see those same intentions today: to fully and violently subjugate Ukraine. To deny the sovereignty and independence of its neighbor and a fellow UN Member State.

Russia participated directly in the negotiation of the Minsk agreements. Russia’s representative signed the three documents constituting the agreements in 2014 and 2015. Russia reaffirmed at the Normandy Four Summit in 2019 that all three Minsk agreements remained the basis for the peace process.

And yet, in the years between the signing of the Minsk agreements and Russia’s full-scale invasion last year, Russia failed to implement a single commitment it made. Russia consistently and repeatedly undermined the fundamental purpose of the Minsk agreements, which was to fully reintegrate the conflict area with the rest of Ukraine and restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Given what we know now, are we to believe that Russia was serious about honoring that pledge? Just as the representative of the Russian Federation urged this Council a year ago to believe that Russia had no intention of further invading Ukraine?

The other Minsk agreement signatories – France, Germany, Ukraine, and the OSCE – sought to implement the agreements in good faith. The United States supported the efforts of the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group while calling for the full implementation of the Minsk agreements by all sides.

Last February, days before he launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, President Putin unilaterally declared Russia would recognize the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts as so-called independent states. This included territory beyond the boundaries that Russia and its proxies actually controlled at that time. President Putin made clear his intentions and his contempt for the UN Charter as well as for the Minsk agreements.

Last September, President Putin claimed to annex the same Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, as well as the additional Ukrainian regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhya. These claims included areas Russia’s forces had not even reached. In October 2022, the General Assembly overwhelmingly condemned these actions as unlawful.

Political resolutions cannot happen at the barrel of a gun. For years, we called on Russia to honor its commitments under the Minsk agreements and to negotiate in good faith for the end of hostilities in eastern Ukraine, as Ukraine did, for years. However, Russia has repeatedly demonstrated its disregard for the Minsk agreements and for international law. We join our Ukrainian partners in considering the Minsk agreements nullified by President Putin’s decision to launch this unprovoked, unjustified war.

In conclusion, Madam President, this Council does not need yet another revisionist history lecture from the Russian delegation. What the world needs is for Russia to immediately stop its relentless attacks against Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, withdraw its forces from Ukraine’s territory, and end this war now.

Thank you.