Ukraine Has Been in State of Lawlessness Since 2014, Lavrov Says
15:44 GMT 22.09.2022 (Updated: 17:29 GMT 22.09.2022)
Ukraine descended into chaos in late 2013 after the Yanukovych government reversed course on penning an association agreement with the European Union in favor of integration with the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union instead. In February of 2014, the Ukrainian president was overthrown in a US-sponsored coup, sparking the present security crisis.
The terms "impunity" or "lawlessness" aptly characterize the situation that Ukraine has been in for over eight years now, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said.
"As I understand it, today's meeting was motivated by the desire of some delegations to discuss the subject of lawlessness/impunity in Ukraine. I think this is very, very timely, because this term - lawlessness/impunity, reflects what has been happening in this country since 2014," Lavrov said, speaking at a United Nations Security Council ministerial meeting on Ukraine on Thursday.
"For more than eight years the Ukrainian Army and nationalist militant formations have been killing the inhabitants of the Donbass with impunity, only because they refused to recognize the results of the criminal, bloody, anti-constitutional coup in Kiev, because they decided to defend rights guaranteed to them under the Ukrainian Constitution, including the right to freely use their native Russian tongue," the foreign minister said.
Lavrov accused Kiev of spending years waging a "total frontal offensive" against the Russian language through a series of laws adopted in 2017, 2020, and 2021, all of which he said were directed at "squeezing out the Russian language, in fact, its total ban."
The minister compared Ukrainian authorities' destruction of Russian-language books in schools and the demolition of monuments to Russian writers to the kind of thing the Nazis in Germany did in the 1930s.
Referendums a Type of 'Response' to Zelensky's Request
Lavrov characterized the planned referendums set to take place in Donbass, Zaporozhye, and Kherson as a response to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's demand that any self-identifying Russians get out of the country.
"The pinnacle [of Kiev's anti-Russian policy] was an interview
with Mr. Zelensky on August 5 of last year, when he advised everyone who feels Russian to leave for Russia for the sake of their children and grandchildren," Lavrov said.
"It seems to me that these decisions which the residents of a whole range of Ukrainian regions on holding referendums are a response to his request," the diplomat said.
The minister slammed international organizations such as the Council of Europe, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, and other structures for their "timid recommendations" when it came to pushing Kiev to improve the language and human rights situation in the country before the escalation of the security crisis.
Lavrov also accused the Ukrainian Army and nationalist battalions of using "terrorist tactics" in the course of the conflict with Russia, including the use of civilians as human shields. Moscow, he said, no longer has any doubts that contemporary Ukraine has become a "Nazi-style totalitarian state where the norms of international humanitarian law are violated with impunity."
"The criminal shelling of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Plant by Kiev regime militants, which creates the risk of a nuclear catastrophe, remains unpunished," Lavrov added.
Western Complicity, Hybrid War
The Western powers' complicity in igniting and prolonging the Ukrainian crisis has also gone unpunished, the foreign minister said, pointing to these countries' openly stated goals of prolonging hostilities, "despite the casualties and destruction, in order to deplete and weaken Russia. This position indicates Western countries' direct involvement in the Ukrainian conflict, makes them a party to it," Lavrov stressed.
"We have no illusions that today the Russian Armed Forces and the DPR and LPR militias are confronted not only by the neo-Nazi formations of the Kiev regime, but also by the military machine of the collective West," Lavrov said.
Moscow will not allow Ukraine to continue to be used as an "anti-Russia" - as a springboard used by the West to create and implement threats against Russian national security, he added.
Passing the Buck on War Crimes
The Russian foreign minister repeated his call for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to push Kiev to at least take the "elementary step" of publishing the names of the victims of the Bucha massacre - in which scores of Ukrainian civilians were murdered in the Kiev suburb of Bucha in early April.
"I have been asking for this for more than a month. No one wants to respond. Dear Mr. Secretary-General, at least you can use your authority here, please," Lavrov urged.
Kiev and its Western curators used the Bucha killings as an indictment against Russia, alleging that Russian troops killed the civilian residents of the town during their retreat. However, subsequent investigations
that the individuals who were killed died after Russian forces had left, and that many of the victims were photographed wearing white armbands (which Russian troops have been using to identify friendlies) and with Russian military-issued food packets. Later, Internet sleuths dug up evidence on social media showing Ukrainian nationalist formations openly announcing that they would be carrying out a "cleansing operation" in the town.
Bucha is just one example of a much broader campaign by the West to "hush up" the Kiev regime's suspected war crimes, Lavrov said.
"Inconvenient truths that cloud the image of Ukraine as a victim of so-called aggression are carefully hushed up, and sometimes openly blacked out," the diplomat said. "Even the Western human rights organization Amnesty International, which can hardly be suspected of harboring any sympathy toward Russia, was subjected to severe criticism and marked down as an 'agent of the Kremlin' simply because its report confirmed well-known facts that Kiev places military positions and heavy weapons in civilian areas."
No Faith in ICC
At the same time, Lavrov said that Russia does not expect any real justice to be doled out by the International Criminal Court or by other international legal bodies, and stressed that Moscow has lost confidence in the body. "We have been waiting in vain for eight years for the fight against impunity in Ukraine to begin...The time for waiting has come to an end," he said.
Lavrov recalled that the court did not take action in the wake of the bloody coup in Kiev in February 2014, nor in May 2014, when dozens of residents of Odessa were burned alive in the city's trade unions building by nationalists, nor Kiev's bombing of the city of Lugansk on June 2, 2014, nor after other, similar crimes.
More than three thousand appeals about suspected crimes against the residents of the Donbass were sent to the ICC, Lavrov said, but these were left without a response. At the same time, efforts have been made to investigate alleged crimes being attributed to the Russian military. "All of this carries a special-order character, we can see this very well," the foreign minister said.