Delivered by Permament Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna, Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk at the special meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on April 14, 2014
We thank the Swiss Chairmanship for convening this special Permanent Council meeting which is prompted by grave concerns over the development of events in the eastern Ukraine.
At the last Permanent Council meeting the Delegation of Ukraine pointed at growing evidence of Russia’s involvement in instigating and coordinating the separatist actions that destabilize the situation in the east of Ukraine. Russian provocateurs and coordinators from among intelligence services are infiltrated to these regions of Ukraine with the aim of stirring unrest and thus creating pretext for the second stage of the Russian occupation of Ukraine.
The events of the last weekend demonstrate that following the annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol the Russian Federation proceeds further in its illegal actions against Ukraine through coordinating and participating in the separatist activities in the eastern regions of the country.
Russia’s actions so far and ongoing aggressive stance have already violated and continue to pose further serious threat to sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine. As such those illegal actions have already been strongly condemned by the international community.
The events of the past few days when armed men forcefully seized control of government buildings and erected barricades in different cities of the eastern Ukraine, strongly indicate the use of the same tactics that was employed by Russia in Crimea in order to forment separatism, undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty, and exercise control over part of the Ukrainian territory. Those were well-armed, well-equipped units wearing identical uniforms conducting coordinated military operations against the state authorities and the Ukrainian people.
Prior to the weekend events numerous reports, including those prepared by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, registered the absence of large-scale demonstrations and described occupation of administrative buildings in Donetsk and Luhansk as “small isolated event while the rest of the city continues its normal daily routine”.
The Ukrainian authorities, for their part, demonstrated their determination to resolve the situation in a peaceful manner as well as their readiness for dialogue. Those were the main messages of Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatseniuk, who visited Donetsk last Friday. However, the peaceful resolution through dialogue does not appear to interest those who are eager to stage violence and unrest.
Peaceful protests have nothing in common with armed people who use firearms to seize administrative buildings and police stations. What is happening now in Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as in the cities of the Donetsk region, notably, Slovyansk, Kramatorsk, Horlivka, Yenakiyeve, Mariupol, Makiivka, Druzhkivka and Khartsyzk falls under qualification of terrorist activities, which necessitate an adequate response.
Significant threats have been posed to the local population, public law and order as the firearms captured in the police stations were handed out to the local extremists. The Ukrainian officer Hennadiy Bilichenko was shot dead yesterday in Slovyansk. Later that day in the same city armed criminals fired at a car with civilians.
The delegation of Ukraine has regularly informed the Permanent Council of the subversive activities of the Russian special services in the eastern Ukraine, serving as evidence of Russia’s involvement in instigating and running the separatist actions in the eastern Ukraine.
The weekend’s events in the Donetsk region provided further proof thereof. The terrorists in Slavyansk were heavily armed with assault rifles and equipment used by the Russian forces only. They were well trained and well coordinated as military units.
Ukrainian authorities are committed to peacefully resolve the current crisis in order to avoid victims. At the same time we will also counter any armed attempts to escalate tensions and threaten lives of people, law and order, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of our state.
In this regard the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine decided yesterday to launch a full-scale anti-terrorist operation aimed against those who use arms and act as terrorists.
Acting President of Ukraine Olexandr Turchynov issued a decree on Sunday, stipulating that those offenders who disarm and free by Monday morning administrative buildings seized recently in the eastern Ukrainian cities will not be prosecuted.
I already informed the Permanent Council about the strategy and concrete steps of the Government of Ukraine to enhance the powers of regions and their development in united, democratic and prosperous Ukraine meeting the interests and needs of all Ukrainians, regardless of their ethnicity, residence, language or religion.
In this connection I bring to your attention that the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine was instructed to elaborate and submit to the Parliament, within a three month period, draft laws on decentralization of power and reform of the local self-governance in a. The drafts are to be prepared by a special working group with the participation of the Government, the Parliament, Association of the Ukrainian cities, local authorities and communities as well as representatives of the civil society.
I conclude this statement by calling again on the Russian Federation to take immediate steps that would allow to de-escalate the situation through:
- revoking the mandate approved by the Federation Council of the Russian Federation on 1 March 2014 on the possibility to use Russian military force on the Ukrainian soil
- redeploying the Russian troops to their permanent bases of stationing away from the border with Ukraine
- putting an end to subversive activities in the eastern parts of Ukraine
- addressing all issues through dialogue with the Ukrainian government.
We call on the Russian Federation, which itself has suffered from the terrorist activities for a long time, to halt exporting terrorism and extremism to Ukraine as this may have dire consequences for the security in the entire OSCE region.
Thank you, Mr.Chairman.