Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna at the OSCE permanent Council on 30 October 2014
Let me start by drawing attention of the Permanent Council to the significant efforts that have been invested by the President of Ukraine, the OSCE and the OSCE participating States towards securing a peaceful resolution of the situation in the east of Ukraine. These efforts may be on the verge of being derailed as one participating State – the Russian Federation – is contemplating recognition of the so called “elections” scheduled by so called “DPR” and “LPR” for 2 November 2014. The Delegation of Ukraine stresses that those so called “elections” are illegitimate, violate the Minsk Protocol and demolish the logics of peaceful settlement in Donbas. Results of this illegal “poll” will not be recognized by Ukraine and the international community, they will be null and void. As a signatory of the Minsk Protocol, Russia has committed to the efforts to achieve sustainable peaceful settlement. Pursuant to the Minsk arrangements the only legitimate elections must be held according to the legislation of Ukraine, on 7 December 2014.
Let me be very clear and precise on this point. Participants of the meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group, including the representative of the Russian Federation, signed a protocol in Minsk on 5 September. Paragraph 9 of the Protocol stipulates the holding of early local elections in accordance with the Law of Ukraine “On the temporary status of local self-government in certain areas of the Donetsk and the Luhansk oblasts” (Law on Special Status). Such law was adopted by the Parliament of Ukraine on 16 September and signed by the President of Ukraine. The law provides for holding the local elections on 7 December.
Therefore, along with being answerable for violation of legal norms and threatening national security of Ukraine and broader European security, those responsible for organizing or supporting illegitimate “elections” take responsibility for ruining the peaceful process and escalating tensions in the east of Ukraine.
By supporting the pseudo-elections on 2 November Russia shows disrespect for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and unity of Ukraine, which was agreed to be the basis for the sustainable peaceful settlement in Donbas. These are the fundamental principles of international law and of the OSCE. By taking its present position Russia violates agreements it signed just weeks ago, assumes responsibility for undermining the peaceful resolution, challenges the OSCE and all OSCE participating States.
We call on Russia to strictly observe the Minsk agreements and exert its influence on the illegal armed groups to do likewise. The choices are in Moscow, just as the responsibility for implications of the choice made. Only legitimate elections can produce legitimate representatives to continue the inclusive national dialogue, which is often referred to by Russia.
The ongoing Russian aggression towards Ukraine, which resulted in the illegal occupation and annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, direct military operations in Donbas along with on-going support to the terrorist organizations, continues to endanger the security of Ukraine and the OSCE area.
Last Sunday Ukraine successfully elected the new Parliament, demonstrating its strong commitment to the international standards of democratic elections. These elections provided a legitimate and inclusive platform for all citizens to cast their votes on the course of development of the country. We regret that several millions of Ukrainian citizens were deprived of their electoral rights, due to the annexation of Crimea and activities of pro-Russian terrorist organizations in the east of Ukraine. Numerous facts of intimidation and threats to those, who wished to take part in voting, were registered in the terrorist-affected areas. Besides, on the eve of the voting day, the Ukrainian law-enforcement neutralized a number of subversive groups that planned to commit terrorist acts or provocations on 26 October in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Zaporizhia and Mariupol.
It yet again demonstrated the disrespect of the pro-Russian militants and their masterminds towards the implementation of the Minsk agreements, as well as the absence of genuine interest on their side in de-escalation on the ground.
In breach of the Minsk agreements the illegal armed groups continue to shell the positions of Ukrainian forces and the residential areas in the cities and villages of Donbas. They have violated the ceasefire regime over 2 000 times. More than 90 Ukrainian servicemen were killed and 500 wounded since the cease-fire started. 7 servicemen were killed in the last 24 hours. Among the main targets for the terrorist attacks remain the Donetsk airport, Debaltseve and Mariupol in the Donetsk oblast, Schastya and Smile in the Luhansk oblast.
We note with concern that instead of full implementation of the Minsk agreements the Russian Federation continues to act in a provocative way. On 28 October Russia again resorted to sending the so-called “humanitarian convoy” without consent and inspection by the Ukrainian side and ignoring the leading role of the ICRC. The Russian Federation has again chosen to act in violation of the norms and principles of international law, including those of inviolability of borders, respect to sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. This behavior is unacceptable and we condemn it. We urge the Russian Federation to respect international law in practice and not simply by declarations.
The Delegation of Ukraine would like to reiterate that until the efficient control at the Ukrainian-Russian border is resumed our collective efforts aimed at ensuring sustainable de-escalation on the ground in the east of Ukraine will fail our expectations for peaceful resolution.
It remains of crucial importance to continue reinforcing the OSCE SMM in terms of human resources and technical devices, including drones, in order to ensure proper monitoring and verification of comprehensive implementation of the Minsk agreements, in particular those related to the border monitoring. We note that the two out of the four civilian drones have already been deployed and we welcome the arrival to Ukraine of the remaining two on 29 October. We support the efforts of the Chairmanship to strengthen SMM’s capabilities by employing military UAVs to effectively respond to the large scope of monitoring tasks of the mission under the Minsk agreements.
We remain deeply concerned over the alarming situation in the occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.
The report of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks on his mission to Kyiv, Moscow and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, released on 27 October, emphasizes that urgent steps must be taken to investigate the crimes against citizens, ensure minority rights and security, as well as media freedom and journalists’ safety.
The Commissioner reconfirmed the assessments of other international institutions, including OSCE and UN, which highlighted the cases of killings, abductions and intimidation of activists, pressure on religious institutions, independent media and businesses, as well as the vulnerability of Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians and all those who refused Russian citizenship in the occupied Crimea.
We urge the Russian Federation as the occupying authority in Crimea to respond to calls of the international community and stop all human rights violations, as well to allow access of international observers to monitor the situation on the ground.
We reiterate our resolute protest over on-going violations of the rights of the Ukrainian citizens, illegally detained by the Russian Federation, including abducted servicewoman and newly-elected MP Nadiya Savchenko and filmmaker Oleh Sentsov. Since our last meeting no positive developments have been registered in relation to their cases.
We urge the Russian authorities to release immediately these Ukrainian citizens, who are political prisoners in Russia.
The delegations may have taken note of the report of Human Rights Watch, released recently, on alleged use of cluster munitions by the Ukrainian forces. I would like to emphasize that Ukraine has never used this type of weapons.
At the same time, we have regularly provided the international community with the evidences of falsifications and fraud, that the pro-Russian militants and Russian propaganda resorted to in order to justify Russian aggression against Ukraine and discredit Ukrainian forces. It seems to be the same case where Human Rights Watch experts fall victim of fabrication by the terrorists.
We attach importance to the cooperation with the Human Rights Watch and invite this institution to broadly and thoroughly investigate the possible use of cluster munitions in Donbas. On a number of occasions, going back months ago, the Ukrainian competent authorities indicated that the terrorists, who receive their supplies from Russia, used cluster munitions.
I will conclude by calling on the Russian Federation to adhere to the Minsk agreements, to halt its aggression against Ukraine, withdraw its forces from the territory of our country, stop reinforcing the terrorist organizations and release all hostages. We urge Russia to end its occupation of Crimea, which remains an integral part of Ukraine, and abide fully by its international obligations and the OSCE principles and commitments.
Thank you, Mr.Chairman.