Delivered by Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna Ihor Prokopchuk at the OSCE permanent Council meeting on 3 July 2014
This meeting of the Permanent Council takes place amidst continuing violations by the Russian Federation of norms of international law and founding OSCE principles and commitments through illegal occupation and annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and destabilizing actions in the eastern regions of Ukraine.
These actions, already condemned by the international community, continue to endanger international peace and security throughout the OSCE space. Some statements made in Moscow this week further undermine our expectations for return of the Russian Federation towards respect of international obligations and commitments this country has voluntarily undertaken in the past which increases the uncertainty of the security environment on the European continent and more broadly.
We have already informed the Permanent Council about a Peace plan set out by President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko to end violence in the east of the country. Last week in this hall Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin joined us for the ASRC and elaborated in more details on the Peace plan, its 15 steps and main components of de-escalation, stabilization and dialogue.
We have witnessed and are grateful for strong international support of the implementation of the Peace plan as the framework for sustainable resolution of situation in the eastern regions of the country.
Aiming at creating conducive environment for launching implementation of the Peace plan, on 20 June 2014 the President of Ukraine declared a week-long unilateral cessation of use of force, which was later extended for another three days until 30 June 2014. Over this period the Ukrainian forces suspended all offensive actions against the illegal armed groups, while reserving the right to respond to attacks against them.
All over this time Ukraine tried to actively utilize international consultation mechanisms in different formats, including on the highest level, in order to facilitate implementation of the Peace plan in seeking peaceful resolution of the crisis.
Unfortunately, the illegal armed groups and their masterminds failed to respect ceasefire and engage in to substantial consultations on de-escalation, including the release of all hostages. Instead, they used the period of ceasefire for strengthening their strongholds, reinforcing their groups with new mercenaries and weapons, taking new hostages as well as carrying out attacks against the Ukrainian forces.
As a result the ceasefire regime was violated by terrorists over its entire duration. Total number of such violations, in ten days since 20 June, amounted to 108, with 28 servicemen killed and 70 wounded. Among the most outrageous incidents – shooting down of a Ukrainian Mi-8 helicopter near Slovyansk with 9 people on board. Altogether, in the counter terrorism operation 200 military men were killed and 619 wounded.
Illegal armed groups also attempted to expand their terrorist activities to adjacent Ukrainian regions. For instance, on 29 June a railway bridge near Zelenyi Kolodyaz, Kharkiv region, was damaged by an explosives blast.
Civilians continued suffering from fire and provocations by terrorists, who often resorted to shelling the residential areas. The terrorists made further attempts to forcibly recruit local residents to their gangs, those who refused became subject to illegal detention and torture.
We regret that over those important ten days no practical steps towards de-escalation on the ground in support of comprehensive implementation of the Peace plan were taken by the Russian Federation. We noted positively the cancellation in the Russian Federation of the mandate to use Russian military force against Ukraine but that was rather a symbolic step.
Russia did not establish an effective border control thus allowing further weaponry inflow and mercenaries’ infiltrations to Ukraine. As for today, two of the three checkpoints seized by the separatists are still under their control. Hostages have not been released.
Under such circumstances and faced with the growing number of casualties during the ceasefire period, the President of Ukraine had no other option but not to extend the unilateral cease-fire.
In his address to the nation President Poroshenko emphasized that termination of the ceasefire was our response to those who tortured civilians, paralyzed the regional economy, disrupted social payments, blasted railroads, destroyed the water pipes and deprived people of normal peaceful life.
At the same time the President unequivocally stated that Ukrainian units would never use force against civilians and attack residential areas. Avoiding or minimizing the losses among civilians remains our top priority.
The President also expressed his readiness to revisit cessation of use of force provided that it is mutual respected under the OSCE monitoring.
This readiness was again reiterated yesterday by the Foreign Minister of Ukraine following a ministerial meeting of Ukraine, Germany, France and the Russian Federation which took place in Berlin.
Yesterday’s negotiations brought some positive signals.
We are confident that the implementation of the Berlin joint declaration depends 99% on Russia. Moscow must stop exporting terrorists and arms for them to Ukraine and make them stop the armed violence.
The terrorist groups have continued to receive light and heavy weapons from the Russian territory. In particular, on 28 June in Artemivsk, Donetsk region, the Ukrainian forces captured a T-64 BV main battle tank, which, according to its serial number, was produced in Kharkiv Tank Factory in 1987 and sent to a military unit, stationed in Russia. According to the Ukrainian Defence Ministry, this tank until recently was on the inventory list of the 205th Infantry Brigade, stationed in the Russian city of Budyonovsk.
We reiterate our call on the Russian Federation to take tangible measures for halting the flows of weapons and mercenaries to Ukraine in line with its international obligations and commitments, in particular through strengthening controls on the Russian side of the Ukrainian-Russian border.
We express our condolences over the death of Russian cameraman Anatoliy Klyan, who lost his live in Donetsk on 30 June near the Ukrainian military compound .The investigation of the circumstances of his death has been launched.
In relation to this regretful incident, we would also draw attention to eyewitness’ accounts, in particular those of Orkhan Dzemal from “Forbes Russia”, that the press tour looked like a planned provocation staged by the separatists, who directed the bus with journalists to the besieged military compound, which was under constant fire, deceiving the media representatives with false information.
We reiterate our call on all journalists, who work in the area of the anti-terrorist operation, to get accreditation in the press center of the headquarters of ATO and take note of safety and security guidance.
At the same time, we remain seriously concerned over on-going incidents with journalists perpetrated by illegal armed groups. On 30 June in Luhansk journalist of Hromadske.tv Anastasiya Stanko and cameraman Illya Bezkorovaynyi were detained by terrorists from so-called “Luhansk people’s republic” and accused of “spying”.
Indeed, hostage taking remains one of the main threats for peaceful people on the side of terrorists in Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
We welcome the release of the last 4 of 8 OSCE monitors on June 28. However, some 170 Ukrainian servicemen and civilians are still held hostage.
We reiterate our strong condemnation of hostage taking and call for immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by separatist. We expect the Russian Federation to exert its influence on the armed separatists to facilitate the release.
We remain gravely alarmed over the situation in the occupied territory of Crimea in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms, which continues to deteriorate.
We have already informed the Permanent Council on numerous occasions that the Russian occupation of Crimea has led to drastic restrictions on the political, linguistic and cultural rights and freedoms, first of all, for the Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars. Cases of torture, intimidation, abductions and killings have been confirmed by UN and OSCE representatives.
Against the backdrop of anti-Ukrainian propaganda on the side of the Russian media, featuring falsifications, distortions and incitement of hatred, the occupation authorities continue depriving local residents of alternative sources of information. On 28 June the signals of Ukrainian TV channels 1+1, 2+2, Channel 5, ICTV, Novy, News 24, NTN and Rada were cut off in Simferopol cable networks and replaced with Russian channels.
We once again emphasize that under the continuing Russian aggression against Ukraine all responsibility for human rights violations in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea lays on Russia as the occupying power in accordance with the norms and principles of international law.
The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly at its Annual meeting in Baku has added its voice to the international condemnation of the Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. On 2 July parliamentarians approved a Resolution on clear, gross and uncorrected violations of Helsinki principles by the Russian Federation.
We value the unequivocal support for the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, demonstrated by parliamentarians from across the OSCE space, as well as their call on the Russian Federation “to end its intervention in Ukraine”.
We urge the Russian Federation to follow the numerous calls by the international community and adhere to the fundamental OSCE principles of sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, to reverse annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, stop interference into Ukraine’s internal affairs and halt export of terrorism to our country.
Thank you, Mr.Chairman.