What's In Blue

Posted Fri 8 Jul 2022

Ukraine: Arria-formula Meeting

On Monday (11 July) at 3 pm EST, Russia will convene an Arria-formula meeting titled “Neo-Nazism and radical nationalism: exploring root causes of the crisis in Ukraine”. At the time of writing, the briefers had yet to be announced. The meeting will take place in the ECOSOC chamber and will be open to representatives of all UN member states. Contingent on approval by Security Council members, the event will be broadcast on UN TV.

According to the concept note prepared by Russia, the meeting aims to provide an opportunity to “learn about the history of Nazism in Ukraine and its current status”. According to Russia, understanding this history is “indispensable for the unbiased analysis of the crimes of nationalist battalions against civilians” in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine.

Russia has long accused Ukraine of glorifying neo-Nazism and praising what they view as neo-Nazi militias fighting pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine. It has also alleged that Ukrainian authorities are systemically subverting the interests of ethnic Russian minorities living in Ukraine. On 22 December 2021, against the backdrop of its military build-up on Ukraine’s borders, Russia convened an Arria-formula meeting on “the situation of national minorities and the glorification of Nazism in the Baltic and Black Sea regions”. In this meeting and on other occasions, Russia has claimed that Kyiv has been overrun by Nazis and that violent nationalism poses an existential threat to ethnic Russians residing in Ukraine. At the 22 December 2021 Arria-formula meeting, the US accused Russia of using the Arria-formula format to “amplify its disinformation against Ukraine”, while the UK said that Moscow is using the meeting to “distort history for its own political purposes”. (For background, see our 21 December 2021 What’s in Blue story.)

Monday’s Arria-formula meeting follows the 21 June Council meeting on “incitement to violence leading to atrocity crimes”, which was called by Albania. At that meeting, the Council was briefed by Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide Alice Wairimu Nderitu; Liubov Tsybulska, Head of the Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security under the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine; and Jared Andrew Cohen, Chief Executive Officer of Jigsaw—a unit within Google that explores threats to open societies—and Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Tsybulska argued that Russian propaganda, often tainted with “genocidal rhetoric”, has “systematically dehumanized” Ukrainians. Some Council members accused Russia of using hate speech to fuel its violence in Ukraine, suggesting that the dehumanizing content prevalent in Russian propaganda has prompted Russian troops to commit atrocities in Ukraine. Russia argued that radical nationalism is the “mainstream policy of Ukrainian authorities” and accused the West of supporting a “Russophobic agenda”. (For background, see our 20 June What’s in Blue story.)

At Monday’s meeting, Council members are likely to present opposing narratives on the root causes of the conflict in Ukraine. Several Council members—including the European members and the US—are expected to reject Russia’s narrative and accuse Russian troops of having committed atrocities in Ukraine. They may also deplore Russia’s media censorship and its weaponisation of disinformation, including through social media platforms. Russia, on the other hand, is likely to accuse Western countries of promoting double standards by deliberately ignoring violations committed by Ukrainian troops since 2014.

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