Deputy Foreign Minister: Second Humanitarian Aid Will Be Delivered by Rail

© RIA Novosti . Михаил Воскресенский / Go to the mediabankRussian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov in interview with Rossiya Segodnya said that second humanitarian aid to eastern Ukraine will be delivered by rail
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov in interview with Rossiya Segodnya said that second humanitarian aid to eastern Ukraine will be delivered by rail - Sputnik International
Rossiya Segodnya spoke to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov about the second humanitarian convoy to Ukraine, hopes for UN participation in the resolution of the conflict, and Russia’s interaction with and attitudes toward proposed changes to the functioning of the Security Council.

Rossiya Segodnya spoke to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov about the second humanitarian convoy to Ukraine, hopes for UN participation in the resolution of the conflict, and Russia’s interaction with and attitudes toward proposed changes to the functioning of the Security Council.

The 69th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations begins September 16th. What subjects are going to be discussed? Which issues are especially important for Russia?

Gennady Gatilov: Naturally, questions raised at the session will reflect the current state of affairs in international politics. Many issues will be addressed from the perspective of the situation that has developed in Ukraine.  I think that right now, the main task for the international community will be to unite our efforts towards the maintenance of world peace and security, for conflict resolution, including long-standing conflicts, and those which are newly reemerging.

From our perspective, this can be achieved only through joint efforts. The era of a unipolar world has already passed. Many governments are coming to the conclusion that multipolarity, and the taking into account of the interests of all states should be reflected in the decisions that are taken by the UN.

As for the Russian delegation, it will be chaired by Sergei Lavrov, our Minister of Foreign Affairs. We will continue to focus our efforts on the formulation of a unifying, positive agenda for the work of the global organization. There is a whole range of initiatives that we traditionally propose, which we will be promoting. This includes initiatives such as the prevention of the deployment of weapons in outer space, and the problem of international information security. Serious attention will be focused on the prevention of the glorification of Nazism. This subject is especially important for us in anticipation of the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. We plan to convene a special session of the General Assembly. This will be done, naturally, closer to the anniversary of the end of the war. An item, called “The End of the Second World War,” has already been entered into the agenda of the UN General Assembly by the Russian delegation.

We will be working proactively with all our associates and partners, with a special focus on joint efforts with the countries of BRICS, the CIS, and the CSTO. We will make joint proposals, notably with the states of the CSTO, related to issues of disarmament and security issues. We are ready for a constructive dialog with all our partners.

You have said that issues having to do with the Ukrainian conflict will be given special emphasis. What are the chances that Russia could introduce a new resolution on Ukraine to the Security Council before the session of the General Assembly?  Russia has already introduced a draft resolution on the provision of humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, but it was blocked.

Gennady Gatilov: Over the last period, the UN Security Council has held 23 meetings devoted to issues related to the situation in and around Ukraine. Our latest initiative concerned not only the humanitarian aspect of the crisis, including the delivery of humanitarian aid, but also the need to begin the process of a political settlement in Ukraine. Unfortunately, our Western partners did not support this idea.

They tried to block the project which we submitted, through additional, counterproductive provisions. Our task was to focus the efforts of the international community on stopping the bloodshed, and starting a political dialog between the parties involved. Unfortunately, this appeal did not find an adequate response from our partners. Therefore, the form in which they sought to adjust our draft resolution, which included placing blame for the situation in Ukraine onto Russia, was unacceptable to us.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that we distributed President Putin’s Seven Point Plant [to resolve the situation in Ukraine –RIA Novosti] as an official document of the UN. This was another part of our work in the UN aimed at deescalating the conflict.

So, could Moscow take the comments into account and resubmit the draft resolution?

Gennady Gatilov: Considering the way in which our partners were trying to conduct affairs on this matter, we believe that working with them on this issue, at this stage, is impossible. It is obvious that their main goal is to ‘blame Russia for everything.’ For this reason, the project remains on the table, but there is no effort being made to finish negotiating on it at present. This does not mean that we will not be working to resume our efforts on the matter in the future. But at present this process is stopped. Nevertheless, our efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to those people that have found themselves in a difficult position in Ukraine continue.

We are preparing to send a second humanitarian convoy. We have already contacted the leadership of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which on the whole has reacted positively toward our efforts, and has expressed a willingness to assist in the realization of humanitarian assistance. Right now we are discussing with them the concrete, practical details of this operation. We expect that it will be successfully implemented. It’s true that the humanitarian situation is very complicated. According to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, the number of refugees and internally displaced persons already exceeds one million people. This is something that greatly concerns both us and the international community. Just recently Ms. Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, made a statement in which she clearly expressed concern about the growing number of refugees specifically and on the expansion of the scale of the humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine in general. What’s going on there can definitely be characterized as a catastrophe; we have no doubts about this. Therefore, we can only welcome the involvement of international organizations and the UN in finding solutions to this problem. We hope that for their part, they will cooperate and assist us in alleviating the situation being faced by the civilian population in southeastern Ukraine.

What assistance can the UN provide in the provision of humanitarian aid?

Gennady Gatilov: From the UN we hope, primarily, for political and moral support. As in the case of the first aid convoy, all practical issues can be addressed through the ICRC, which is the organization that should be dealing with this problem. They have accumulated the necessary positive experience in this area. The Red Cross is an organization with a great deal of authority in the world thanks to its impartiality, neutrality, and the professionalism of its work. They command respect and trust from many countries, including Russia, which actively cooperates with and maintains contact with them.

You’ve said that the Red Cross has expressed its readiness to participate in the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Last time, Red Cross representatives did not cross the Russian-Ukrainian border for reasons of personal safety. What will their participation be this time?

Gennady Gatilov: This time the delivery will be done by rail. It’s a somewhat different type of arrangement. Now all possible aspects of the delivery are being discussed with the Red Cross. I cannot disclose the details at present. In principle, the fact that the first humanitarian convoy was carried out successfully, and that the Red Cross recognized this fact, provides a basis for their active participation in the second round as well. I think that the lessons and experience that have been gathered will be taken into account for the creation of the current convoy.

There have already been 23 meetings of the UN Security Council on Ukraine. Russia raised a number of important questions, for example, on the investigation of the tragedy of May 2 in the House of Trade Unions in Odessa, and on the use of helicopters with UN markings by Kiev in the carrying out of their military operation. What advances have there been in these areas?

Gennady Gatilov: We put forward questions in the meetings of the Security Council on these issues –on Odessa, on Mariupol, and on all other related subjects. Unfortunately, we have not received an adequate response on the investigation of these issues. We continue to hope that we will receive some clear explanations, but it must be noted that up to now we have not seen this type of positive response.

As concerns the helicopters, we had raised this issue in the strongest form possible back in May before the UN Secretariat, demanding an investigation of the incidents, and expressing the hope that the leaders of the UN itself would come out with an extremely demanding evaluation and condemnation of such actions, which do not accord with UN practice. The UN Secretariat had assured us then that they were in contact with the authorities in Kiev, and that they would inform us of the results of their discussions.  But even to the present, they have not informed us of the results of their investigation. In any case, we have not received any further information on the subject.

Still, it is worth mentioning, that after we drew attention to the illegal use of these helicopters in the conflict, there haven’t been any more cases of their use. Therefore, in a certain sense, our signal has played its role, and Kiev came to the realization that they could not continue to violate these [UN] principles.

So Russia has not yet received any information about the course of the investigation; is it even clear whether an investigation has begun at all?

Gennady Gatilov: We were told that they had launched an investigation, but that they do not have enough information in order to reach any concrete conclusions, and that they were unable to attain such information. So, for this reason, probably, the investigation was stalled at this stage.

After the Geneva meetings on Syria, when steps toward the resolution of the crisis were agreed upon, Russia advocated that the agreement be recorded in the form of a resolution of the Security Council. Might there be a similar situation with Ukraine, in the event that the contact group in Minsk succeeds in reaching some agreements? Would it be beneficial to record the agreement in UN documents?

Gennady Gatilov: Why not? If the self-defense militias and the authorities in Kiev succeed in reaching any concrete agreements, including specific steps toward resolving the crisis, an end to the bloodshed and all the other issues related to resolving the situation, and if the Security Council can support them with its authority, this would definitely be a positive step. But the main thing here is that such a declaration of the Security Council must really be focused on supporting these agreements, and their practical implementation. Our Western partners should not try to include in such an agreement some unacceptable provisions or attempts to blame on one party or another for the origins and expansion of the conflict. It is of maximum importance that such a declaration be positive in its form; then it would be more likely to be correct and truly constructive.

Can the present disagreements between Russia and the Western members of the UN Security Council have an impact on calls for the reform of the Security Council, or accelerate its pace? Do you think that it’s possible to expect attempts to reevaluate Russia’s role in the Security Council, to exclude Russia from among the permanent members of the Security Council, or to deny her the right of veto?

Gennady Gatilov: There are no procedures in place for such a thing. Everything that is being said on the subject is just empty political talk. The UN Charter clearly defines the composition of the Security Council, the powers of its members, and its responsibilities. Even speaking purely hypothetically, such a change would require changing the UN Charter, and this would be practically impossible to do, and no one is going to do it.
The reform of not just the Security Council, but of the UN as a whole has been the subject of discussion for more than fifteen years. There is still no general agreement on the reform of the Security Council. There are several options, supported by various groups of countries, but none of these models enjoys broad support. For this reason this initiative is not moving forward.

Recently, French President Francois Hollande put forth the idea of high-level meetings within the framework of ministerial week to discuss the issue of the restriction of the use of the veto in the Security Council. The French say that the permanent members of the Security Council should give up the right of veto in cases of mass violations of human rights, genocide, etcetera. This in principle is not an original idea; it was proposed some time ago. The idea is ambiguous in its meaning, and demands very serious deliberation. In any case, attempts to impose self-restraint on the use of the veto are fraught with a large number of related issues that may arise [were it to be implemented].

Firstly, it is necessary to define the criteria of human rights violations, where to consider the violation to be massive in scale, and where not. And why for instance, should we speak only of human rights violations? What about when our Western partners block and veto a resolution on the delivery of humanitarian assistance –what should we do in this case? Why shouldn’t such a situation for example not also be subject to the restriction of the right to veto? Or when we propose to adopt a resolution on the immediate cessation of armed hostilities in Ukraine –an initiative which our Western partners also block through a veto, by the way?  Why shouldn’t these issues also be subject to review for self-restraint in the use of veto power?

Therefore, the subject is not so simple.  It should not be associated only with the problem of mass human rights violations.  There are other equally important problems in international politics, where it could also be said that the permanent members of the Security Council should not use their right to veto. A meeting on this issue will be held in New York and we will state our position on the subject. We’ll see what comes out of the discussion.

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