Polish FM chairs UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz chaired a UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday PAP/EPA/JUSTIN LANE

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz chaired a UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday devoted to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. In his address, Czaputowicz praised Ukrainians' determination to become part of the Western world.

The Polish minister said the Ukrainian nation wanted their country to be based on democracy and rule of law in order to ensure a thriving civic society and a strong market economy.

Czaputowicz pointed to what he termed regular violations of human rights on the Crimean Peninsula that Russia had annexed from Ukraine, and said they in particular affected NGOs and Crimean Tatars.

He spoke about more than 2,800 civilian deaths in the aftermath of the conflict in eastern Ukraine that has been ruled by pro-Moscow separatists as well as thousands of wounded civilians and 1.5 million internally displaced persons.

The top Polish diplomat blamed Russia for breaking international law, saying its aggression against a sovereign state and illegal annexation of Crimea was a blatant violation of the principles of international law included in the United Nations Charter.

Czaputowicz stressed that the situation in eastern Ukraine remained tense despite international efforts. He said the Minsk ceasefire agreement should be implemented immediately to prevent hostilities and regular use of heavy weapons.

Putting a stop to grave violations of human rights is the top priority, Czaputowicz said.

Speaking about the December 2017 UN resolution that condemned retroactive application by the Russian Federation of its laws in the occupied territory, as well as the compulsory naturalisation of Ukrainian citizens, Czaputowicz noted that the UN urged Russia to fulfil the interim decision of the International Court of Justice on the restoration of rights and freedoms of Ukrainian citizens on the peninsula. The Russian occupation authorities were also called upon to ensure the educational process in Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar languages in the area and to ensure access to the peninsula to international monitoring missions.

The Polish minister spoke in favour of sending a UN peacekeeping mission to the conflict areas and appointing a special UN envoy to Ukraine. He said humanitarian aid for the country was an urgent issue and stressed that Poland offered help to displaced persons in the regions of Kharkiv, Zaporizhya and Donetsk.

The UN Security Council session on Ukraine was a Polish initiative and the first official Council meeting devoted to Ukraine since February 2017.