June 21, 2022
Mr. President, distinguished members of the Security Council,
I also recognize the representative of Putin’s regime in the permanent seat of the Soviet Union. He has again taken advantage of this seat to shift responsibility for the war onto everyone but Russia. More than once in this chamber I have already drawn attention to the widely used Russian tactics of aggressive mimicry, when a predator gains an advantage by presenting itself as a victim. It is a similar dynamic with a rapist and a victim, when the latter is blamed for «provoking» the rapist to commit their crime.
Putin’s envoy follows the example of his boss, minister Lavrov, who uses the same tactics when claiming that Russia has not invaded Ukraine and that their “military operation” was declared because Russia [and I quote] “had absolutely no other way of explaining to the West that dragging Ukraine into NATO was a criminal act”. [end of quote]
What a confession! Now on the record. Aggressive mimicry is a regular defensive tactics for criminals. Rather useless and Putin’s envoy will understand that once he takes another seat – on the bench of a future tribunal for Russian war criminals.
I would like to thank the briefers for their substantive presentations. The information brought to our attention has again proved that there is no other option for ending this war but to bring the aggressor to account. As Nazis were brought to account in Nuremberg. The materials of the Nuremberg trials contain a thorough examination of the genesis of Nazism and its deadly nature. I do believe that future trials will provide us with equally comprehensive answers on how Russia turned into an aggressive and inhumane regime. But let me remind you now of some important milestones. Including those of incitement to violence.
The obsessive desire of the Russian leadership and army generals to kill and to destroy did not appear from nowhere. Since the 1990s Russian politicians and media have consolidated their warmongering rhetoric and hate speech flavored with imperial sentiments. To paraphrase Benito Mussolini “the press of Russia is free, freer than the press of any other country, so long as it supports the regime.”
The main targets might change from time to time. However, democratic nations and almost all neighbours have always been in focus. Both for Mussolini, and for Putin. Both dictators hoped that eventually their ideology would invade far beyond Europe, and hit America. Unfortunately, the world overlooked this dangerous trend that could only encourage Russia to consolidate its aggressive propaganda.
Moreover, the Kremlin received so much proof of the world’s 30 years of de-facto apathy towards Russia’s violations and, subsequently, of its impunity, that the launch of a full-fledged war was only a matter of time. The event that took place in this chamber in December 1991 triggered the sequence of tragic events to follow. Just imagine, on the last day before Christmas Eve the Security Council President, Soviet Ambassador Vorontsov adjourns the Council’s meeting.
The next Council meeting is opened by the very same person – and lo and behold! – as a representative of another country – the Russian Federation. A country at that moment absent from the UN Charter and from the list of the UN membership in general. There was no vote in the Security Council. There was no vote in the General Assembly. There was no formal decision of any body, and not because of the Christmas break. President Yeltsin just notified the UN of his decision and someone accepted this decision for execution with no public debate or vote.
Yet Ambassador Vorontsov managed to convince the Secretary General to accept his credentials under a Christmas tree as a representative of Russia. Or didn’t he even care to present his new credentials? It would be interesting to get a confirmation from the Secretariat. Let me quote from Vorontsov’s memoirs scandalously posted on the UN website. “In fact, the whole process outwardly looked like a simple change of the plate at the table of delegations in the General Assembly and in the Security Council. Instead of the “Soviet Union” sign, the “Russian Federation” appeared.” In December 1994 Russia launched the war in Chechnya.
The city of Groznyy was razed to the ground as many Ukrainian cities are today, and not without the participation of Kadyrov’s thugs. The number of casualties among the civilian population in Chechnya reached tens of thousands, up to 80 – 100 thousand according to the then secretary of Russia’s national security council, Lebed. And what happened in response to its cruelty and barbarism in Chechnya?
Russia received an invitation to and became a member of the Council of Europe, after a short face-saving pause taken by what was designed as a stronghold, if not a temple, of human rights. The decision to invite Russia was taken in some European capitals by politicians who believed that the need to engage undemocratic Russia overrode the need to abide by international law and human rights standards and, I would dare to say, to maintain decency.
If in 1991 Russia imposed itself in one Council by the wish of its president, five years later another Council invited the blood soaked Russian regime to join its club. But brace yourself! As if to humiliate the Helsinki Final Act the ministers of the Council of Europe in their meeting in the Finish capital in 2019 decided to return Russia to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
The clock was ticking, the imminent full scale invasion was closer and closer, and yet appeasement was the script. Two decades before, in 1999 at the Istanbul OSCE Summit Russia undertook a commitment to withdraw its troops from Moldova and Georgia. As always, Russian commitments turned out to be just empty promises. Twenty-three years after the Summit Russian troops are still deployed in Transdniestria, Moldova, being used as additional pressure on the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the south of Ukraine. Neither did the world respond adequately to the Russian aggression against Georgia in 2008.
It was not a Christmas break then, just Europe went on summer holidays in August, and by the time officials came back to their offices, including in the OSCE, it was already a “new reality” for many, and they carried on with their business. The attempted annexation of Crimea six years later and the conflict in Donbas are a logical development of the Russian strategies aimed at undermining international law and the rules-based order.
Again, they failed to become a turning point in the world’s relations with Russia. So did Russia’s war crimes in Syria. Instead, the world, intoxicated by the illusion of “business as usual”, continued to believe that the most efficient way to bring Russia back onto the track of normalcy was complacency while minister Lavrov would literally laugh in the face of his Western colleague in Geneva over “reset” button erroneously called “overcharge”. Less than a year after Russia invaded Georgia. Nordstream II deserves a separate chapter in this saga of addictive gas rapprochement with the Kremlin dictator.
These developments have inevitably led Russia to its current standing – an aggressive, fascist state with no limits to its criminal behavior. One can find the conclusions of many scholars on the matter, including those of Timothy Snyder, a well-known historian and professor at Yale University, who has recently described the criteria of fascism which today’s Russia meets.
It has a cult around a single leader. It has a cult of the dead, organized around the Second World War. It also has a myth of a past golden age of imperial greatness, to be restored by a war of healing violence — the murderous war on Ukraine. Fascist aesthetics are easily traceable in the promotion of the “Z” symbol, in the organisation of mass rallies, in the consolidation of the propaganda of war and the incitement of hatred towards Ukraine and Ukrainians.
The theft of Ukrainian resources from the occupied territories and attempts to annex these territories testify that imperial and neocolonial-style thinking is a guiding principle in the Kremlin’s policy on the international stage. We should not be deceived by Russia’s anti-fascist and anti-Nazi rhetoric. It is just another manifestation of aggressive mimicry, that got further, labelling Ukrainians as “neo-Nazi” in order to dehumanize them and make them a legitimate target for Russian soldiers.
Putin wants more territories, comparing himself to the 18th century Russian tsar Peter. “It is also our lot to return,” he said about newly independent countries claiming “basic values” that “form the basis of [Russian] existence”. My question is where will a regime proclaiming three centuries-old imperial ambitions as its “basic values”, stop? Identifying himself with the Russian tsar, Putin not only raises questions concerning his mental state. The dictator publicly speaks of his determination to act and behave as an 18th century ruler, and we preach to him with quotes from the UN Charter? Seriously?
As Ukraine is bleeding fighting for its right to exist, there is no place for a dilemma of appeasement vs accountability. Opting for appeasement would only put the darkest times ahead of us. Russia will stop at nothing in its invasion of Ukraine, using any pause to make newly occupied territories its strongholds and to gather more cannon fodder to renew its attack on Ukraine.
I find it preposterous that some politicians invite Ukraine to consider calls for concessions to Moscow coming from a person who half a century ago advised his president, “if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern.” Today some “pundits” of the same school believe that tens of thousands of Ukrainians killed by the dictator in Moscow is not a concern. Art of “Diplomacy”, isn’t it? Or is art of ‘incitement’?
His family literally fled fascism, Nazism, and most probably gas chambers in Europe that was about to be invaded by Hitler, and now he pushes us to be strangled by Putler; and one dares to advise us to listen to him? No surprise, today’s review in The Guardian of London of yet another bestseller from ‘a stupendous liar with a remarkable memory*’ (Christopher Hitchens as quoted in The Guardian on June 21, 2022) finishes with a reminder that ‘to his critics he will always be the man who told the Chilian dictator Augusto Pinochet that he was sympathetic with what he was trying to do.’
Indeed, it’s a shame he didn’t include an essay on that brutal “Leadership”. Just a week ago Putin claimed that the former Soviet Union was historical Russia. What is next? Will it be a request from Putin’s envoy to swap nameplates in this chamber again? This time from “Russian federation” to “Soviet Union”. After all it will be in total compliance with the UN Charter as it is – since the Soviet Union is still there. Isn’t it? Distinguished colleagues, Predators attack those who are, or appear to be, weaker, and after such attacks they may develop a taste for human blood and become serial killers.
Russia’s conversion to an aggressive fascist regime has already been demonstrated in its inability to refrain from attacking those whom it considers to be weak prey. It must be stopped by us all, the sooner the better. Ukraine, now on the frontline, has the necessary will of its leadership, resoluteness and bravery of its army and people as well as unprecedented international solidarity. If we let Putin or his successor on the Kremlin throne regrow their chopped back claws soaked in the blood of Ukrainians, the next war is imminent and the civilized world will pay three times the price of what is being paid today. Let’s finish off Russian fascism now!
I thank you.