At least 3.4 million people in eastern Ukraine are in need of sustained humanitarian assistance due to the war. More than half of those in need are women, and 40 percent are elderly, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo said during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the situation in Donbas.

DiCarlo called on the parties to help lift undue restrictions on freedom of movement across the contact line and secure the opening of additional exit and entry crossing points.

“In recent weeks, without progress on the related security and political tracks, the overall situation [in eastern Ukraine] remains fragile,” the UN official said, adding that the Organisation stands with the people of Ukraine in their search for sustainable peace.

In general, the Kremlin again tried to use the Security Council meeting, which took place on 11 February via video conference, as a platform for voicing its narratives and spreading fakes about Russia’s war against Ukraine. In particular, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzya stated that “Ukraine has occupied Ukraine and is waging war on its own territory.” He also reiterated that Russia does not consider itself a party to the Minsk agreements.

Meanwhile, Germany’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Christoph Heusgen recalled the Kremlin’s lies about the tragedy of flight MH17, about the facts that the town of Debaltseve was captured after the signing of the agreements, Russia did not withdraw heavy weapons, 94% of all incidents of OSCE access in the east were blocked by occupiers, Moscow issues Russian passports in Donbas, and it violated the Budapest Memorandum.

“Instead of trying to give legitimacy to puppets, you need to focus on doing your job. It would be better if you finally open Zolote and Shchastia entry-exit crossing points rather than telling fantastic stories here,” the German ambassador said to the Russian envoy.

In response, Nebenzya called Germany and France “accomplices in Kyiv’s crimes against the population of Donbas” and said that “no one has presented evidence of this very Russian aggression in Donbas.”

At the same time, Rodney Hunter, a political coordinator of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, said, “Russia has stepped up its efforts to destabilise Ukraine and undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty over the past year. Sanctions on Russia in response to its aggression in eastern Ukraine and occupation of Crimea will remain in place unless – and until – Russia reverses course.”

A joint statement by Estonia, France, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Norway and the UK said the countries were “concerned about the increase in ceasefire violations since November”. They called on Russia to “immediately stop fueling the conflict and provide financial and military support” to the militants.

During a speech at the Security Council meeting, the head of the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group, Leonid Kravchuk, stated that the Kremlin had not made a decision to end the war in Donbas.

“The aggression continues. People are dying. The suffering of civilians is intensifying… In January-February 2021, the number of ceasefire violations by Russian illegal armed formations increased significantly, leading to new combat losses among Ukrainian servicepersons… I must say that today no one is misled by Russia’s attempts to convince the international community that there are no Russian troops, weapons or mercenaries in Ukraine. In fact, the Russian Federation has turned some districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as Crimea, into its large military outpost,” Kravchuk said.

He noted that Ukraine is taking practical steps to resolve the conflict, but at the same time it is forced to constantly deal with the opposition of the Russian Federation in the negotiation process.

Bohdan Marusyak

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