Thank you very much, Mr. President. As we look back at the Council’s work in February, I first would like to once again offer the deepest condolences of the United States to the Russian Federation on the passing of Ambassador Churkin. We were shocked and saddened, and our thoughts are with you, especially the Russian Mission team, at this time.
Mr. President, I congratulate you and your Mission for a successful presidency, even as your country continues to deal with the Russian occupation of Crimea and the dire situation in eastern Ukraine. That situation necessarily was a major focus of the emergency meeting on Ukraine that you called early in the month and also your important open debate on Conflicts in Europe. We continue to support the Minsk agreements and their full implementation as the best path to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The United States condemns last Friday’s targeting of OSCE monitors and the seizure of a Special Monitoring Mission unmanned aerial vehicle by combined-Russian separatist forces. It is imperative that these forces stop their attacks on civilian infrastructure, including the Donetsk water filtration station. We call on Russia and the separatist forces it backs to immediately observe the cease-fire, withdraw all heavy weapons, and allow full and unfettered access to the OSCE monitors.
It was right and appropriate for Ukraine to draw attention to the sometimes overlooked danger of terrorist attacks against critical infrastructure, and we welcome adoption of Resolution 2341 to help all states to prevent, mitigate and respond to such attacks and provide an impetus for governments to cooperate more on critical infrastructure protection.
Now, looking ahead, Mr. President, the United States urges the Council to strongly condemn the Syrian regime’s blatant violations of the Chemical Weapons Convention and UN Security Council Resolution 2118 and to support the draft accountability resolution co-authored by the United States, France, and the UK, which will be considered after this meeting. As we move into March, the Council must remain vigilant on the overall situation in Syria and support Special Envoy de Mistura’s efforts to advance a political solution to end the rising violence and help ease the enormous suffering of the Syrian people.
Finally, I want to highlight the Council’s upcoming Mission to Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria to examine the security and humanitarian impact of the Boko Haram conflict, under the leadership of the UK, Senegal, and France. The United States welcomes the progress by the forces of Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon, and Benin – working together as the Multinational Joint Task Force – to clear territory of Boko Haram and ISIL-West Africa fighters. We look forward to discussing with the people and governments of the Lake Chad Basin region how best to support the humanitarian response to meet the needs of the conflict-affected population, as well as how best to support military and civilian initiatives in order to counter violent extremism and to restore peace and stability.
In closing, I’d like to thank you again for an excellently run month of February, Mr. President, and to commit our full support to the UK it takes up the gavel in the month of March. Thank you.