Security Council Briefing: The situation in Ukraine

Statement by H.E. Lise Gregoire-van Haaren,
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations

New York, 26 November 2018

Thank you very much Mr. President.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands supports the procedural point made by the United Kingdom and Poland, on the Russian declaration.

In line with resolution 68/262, adopted in the General Assembly with an overwhelming majority on 27 March 2014, let me reiterate our full support to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.

Less than a month ago, we sat in this Chamber to discuss the situation in Ukraine. It is clear that the volatile security situation in this part of the world needs to be addressed urgently.

Mr. President, I will focus on three issues today:

  • The events of Sunday November 25th;
  • The context in which these events are taking place;
  • Steps toward de-escalation.

1. The events

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is deeply concerned about yesterday’s developments in the Black Sea region. The blocking of the Kerch Strait by the Russian Federation, denying access to Ukrainian ports, constitutes a violation of international law. This is not acceptable.

As stated in the open briefing on October 30th, the security situation in this area has direct consequences for the wider Black Sea region.

2. The context of these events

Mr President, that brings me to my second point. Let us focus on the root cause of the situation we are discussing today: the illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by the Russian Federation. This remains a violation of international law and Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The annexation constitutes an ongoing threat to international peace and security that merits the full attention of this Council.

Since 2014, the security situation in the region has been worsening due to the actions taken by the Russian Federation. It has militarized the Crimean Peninsula, illegally built a bridge over the Kerch Strait, and has imposed unilateral and unwarranted limitations on maritime shipping in the Sea of Azov.

3. De-escalation

Mr. President, thirdly: any further escalation of tensions must be prevented. We call on the Russian Federation to halt all restrictions on the freedom of navigation it has imposed in and to the Sea of Azov and refrain from any further military confrontations with Ukrainian vessels in the region. Such actions are illegal and violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

We furthermore reiterate the various calls from the international community, including from the European Union, on all parties involved to show the utmost restraint in order to prevent any further escalation of tensions. The stakes are high and consequences could be grave.

As said in the briefing on October 30th, the Kingdom of the Netherlands welcomes Ukraine’s decision to seek arbitration under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. We urge the Russian Federation and Ukraine to commit to this arbitration process and seek a peaceful legal settlement of this dispute.

Mr. President, let me end by reiterating that sustainable peace and stability in the region will only be possible if and when the Russian Federation returns to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.