Russia’s Churkin cites US constitution after ambassador Haley’s rant at UNSC over Ukraine

Belligerent rhetoric towards Moscow over Ukrainian crisis is nothing new, Russia’s UN ambassador noted after the Security Council meeting, where the newly-appointed US envoy blamed Moscow for the recent surge of violence provoked by Kiev.

During the UN Security Council meeting dealing with the recent escalation of violence in Eastern Ukraine, the US and the UK ambassadors teamed up to attack Russia, instead of focusing on Kiev’s actions which has driven the frozen conflict to new heights.

Criticizing the alleged “aggressive actions of Russia,” the newly appointed US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the UNSC that the “dire situation in eastern Ukraine is one that demands clear and strong condemnation of Russian actions.”

“Until Russia and the separatists it supports respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, this crisis will continue,” she noted, turning her attention to anti-Russia sanctions.

“Eastern Ukraine, of course, is not the only part of the country suffering because of Russia’s aggressive actions. The United States continues to condemn and call for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea,” Haley added. “Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine.”

Taking the floor, Russia’s envoy stressed that it is Kiev who is responsible for the escalation of violence, and not Russia which has nothing to do with fighting there.

“The essence of those events is quite clear: Kiev is trying to use the armed clashes that it provoked as a pretext for a complete rejection of the February 12, 2015, Minsk agreements, sealed by the UN Security Council resolution 2202,” Churkin said in Russian, TASS reports.

The diplomat went on to list public remarks made by the Ukrainian officials over recent days which clearly proved that it was indeed Kiev that has escalated the situation there. He also cited OSCE reports and surveillance data which places the blame squarely on the Ukrainian government and not the rebel forces.

Churkin also noted the correlation between Petro Poroshenko’s trips abroad and the escalation of violence in the Donbass.

“Any serious intensification of hostilities in Donbass miraculously coincides with foreign visits of the Ukrainian leadership. Apparently, this is how Kiev expects to keep the crisis that it had provoked on the international agenda,” Churkin said.

“And, of course, the Ukrainian leadership needs money today, that can easily wheedle out of the European Union, some European nations, the United States and international financial institutions when they pretend to be a victim of ‘aggression’,” the diplomat added.

Instead of “searching sensible compromises” to end the conflict, the envoy stressed, Kiev is “pressing for a military solution.”

Churkin called for an immediate ceasefire and swift de-escalation of the situation “to prevent disaster and to return the situation to the political track.”

“We trust that those with common sense within Ukraine itself and also all those keen to settle issues of this kind through political means will not allow the situation in southeastern Ukraine to develop along the worse-case scenario,” Churkin said, instead advising Kiev to focus their efforts on immediately implementing the Minsk peace agreements.

But Churkin’s speech did not impress the British Ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, who accused the Russian side of misinforming the council.

“We frequently hear from the Russian government, as we did today, that all the problems in eastern Ukraine are the consequence of actions by the Ukrainian government. This is simply not the case. It is an inversion of reality.”

He later tweeted, “Great #UNSC debut speech by @NikkiHaley today. Fully agree that sanctions must remain until #Russia returns control of #Crimea to #Ukraine.”

Despite the tense exchange in the Security Council, Churkin, ever the consumate diplomat, praised Haley's first UN appearance.

“I think it was friendly enough, given the circumstances, and given the subject which we were discussing,” Churkin said of Haley's speech after the meeting. “We may have some differences on some individual issues from time to time, but the fact remains that she is going to play a very important role in whether or not the SC will be able to play a role as a collective international body carrying the main responsibility for international peace and security.”

Speaking on the subject of sanctions Churkin reminded his partners that it’s not a subject for negotiations, but which rather calls for a “decision to be made by those who have imposed them.”

As for Haley’s demand for Russia to surrender the sovereignty of Crimea back to Ukraine, Churkin, referred his American colleague to the preamble to the US constitution, thus reminding the US ambassador that Crimeans voted to become part of Russia to secure freedom and avoid Kiev’s tyranny.

“In this regard, one cannot forget the remarkable historical words that are found in the constitution of the United States: ‘We the people’”, Churkin said in his response. “The people of Crimea quite clearly expressed their will in a referendum.”

Churkin then shifted focus and fired a salvo in the direction of the British envoy, advising him that in order to gain some credibility, the UK should first return the Malvinas islands which are claimed by Argentina, Gibraltar claimed by the Spanish, and the “annexed part of Cyprus which you turned into a huge military base.”