Statement of Germany in the Briefing of the UN Security Council on Ukraine on 17 February 2023

17.02.2023 - Speech

The statement was delivered by Ambassador Thomas Zahneisen.

Madam President,

I am very grateful for the opportunity to address the Council today on this matter. And before starting I would like to thank the two briefers of today, ASG Jenča and His Excellency Mr Sajdik, for their interventions.

After the Russian occupation of Crimea and parts of Eastern Ukraine in 2014, Germany and France committed themselves to finding a peaceful solution of the conflict in the “Normandy Format” jointly with the Russia Federation and Ukraine. We managed to agree on the Minsk Agreements, and this Council unanimously endorsed the agreements with resolution 2202. They significantly reduced the level of violence and laid out a roadmap towards a political solution on the basis of Ukraine’s constitutional order and in respect of its territorial integrity.

The members of the Security Council – including Russia – voiced their continued support for the agreements. The Council met exactly one year ago. Deputy Foreign Minister Vershinin said after the meeting, and I quote: “At the meeting we reiterated very firmly our commitment to de-escalation and finding a peaceful solution to this crisis, which once again should be based on the Minsk Agreements. I believe that now is the time for our partners in Western capitals to stop this hysteria about the intentions of Russia in the region.” – end of quote. We know what happened afterwards: Only one week later, Russia launched its war of aggression on Ukraine.

If we really want to look back today, let me stress: Over almost ten years, Ukraine, France and Germany left no stone unturned to find a peaceful and diplomatic way forward in line with the Minsk Agreements. I would like to thank you, Mr Sajdik, for your clarification on the motivations of my country and France. And thank you also for all your efforts you tried to implement the agreements.

The agreements aimed at stopping the bloodshed and at reaching a political solution, in full respect of international law, and to restore Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. Therefore, Russia’s continuous twisting of our former Chancellor’s words to imply that Germany did not want a peaceful solution is simply absurd.

Despite setbacks and a lack of trust between Moscow and Kyiv, Germany and France kept the process running. But Russia made it impossible for diplomacy to succeed. It is Russia that launched an unprovoked war of aggression on all of Ukraine; it is Russia that recognized the separatist entities of its own making in Eastern Ukraine; it is Russia that is trying to illegally annex Ukrainian land, starting with Crimea, an annexation that we have not and will never recognize.

Where do we stand now? Germany shares the international community’s desire for peace. To end Russia’s war of aggression and brutal occupation of Ukraine as soon as possible, Germany supports Ukraine to make full use of its inherent right of self-defence in line with Art. 51 of the UN Charter. At the same time, we are keeping all diplomatic channels open to work towards a just and lasting peace in line with the UN Charter. We welcome President Zelenskyj’s “peace formula” in this regard. The formula also takes into account the wider, the global implications of Russia’s brutal and illegal aggression, such as the impact on food and energy security.

We deeply regret that Russia is showing no willingness at all to enter into serious peace negotiations. On the contrary, the Russian government portrays its illegal land grab in Ukraine as final and its acceptance as a pre-condition for peace talks.

The Secretary-General and the overwhelming majorities in the General Assembly have been clear: Russia’s war of aggression and illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories are a clear and blatant violation of the UN Charter and they must stop immediately. Russian troops must withdraw now. Accepting such a breach of the UN Charter as the starting point of negotiations would be nothing but giving up on the UN Charter and our Principles. We would enter a world where might makes right and each of us would live in constant fear of a stronger neighbour.

There is a truth and it is simple: Russia has launched a war of aggression against one of its neighbours, a founding member of the UN. It keeps violating Ukraine’s sovereign equality and territorial integrity.

To stop this war is equally simple: We urge Russia to abide by the binding order of the International Court of Justice, to cease hostilities, to withdraw its troops. I urge Russia to live up to its responsibilities as a member of this Council and abide by the UN Charter. This is the only avenue for meaningful diplomatic efforts. Germany stands ready to support all such efforts to find an end to this devastating war of Russia’s choice and making.

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