Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 6 November 2014
The past week was marked by ever growing self-isolation of Russia as it moved further in failing to honour the commitments it signed only some weeks ago. By opting to recognize the illegal and illegitimate so-called “elections” in certain areas of Donbas on 2 November, Russia chose to violate again the norms of international law, fundamental OSCE principles and commitments, chose to act in breach of the the Minsk agreements.
The Minsk Protocol of 5 September and Memorandum of 19 September 2014 signed by participants of the Trilateral Contact Group – representatives of Ukraine, the OSCE and the Russian Federation - have formed a road-map for sustainable peaceful resolution in Ukraine’s east based on respect for territorial integrity, sovereignty and unity of Ukraine.
As Ukraine has undertaken all necessary steps to implement the Minsk agreements fully and in good faith, Russia and the Moscow-backed separatists have not underpinned the Minsk agreements with concrete and practical steps, envisaged by the documents. Ignoring a vast gap between their commitments and real developments and violations on the ground, registered by numerous SMM reports, they went further in defying the Minsk Protocol by organizing illegal so-called “elections”.
We reiterate that the so-called “elections” of 2 November were illegal and illegitimate, they were held in breach of the Ukrainian legislation and Constitution, they directly violated the Minsk agreements and thus severely undermined the peace process and de-escalation efforts.
Russia’s de facto recognition of these illegal and illegitimate “elections” is a violation of its own commitments under the Minsk Protocol. It also speaks volumes that Russia brought in so-called “international observers”, representing mostly far-right and far-left radical and nationalist parties, who were the same persons, invited by the Russian Federation in March to “monitor” illegitimate so called “referendum” in Crimea.
Backed up again by Russia, the terrorist leaders got further emboldened and have now escalated their war-mongering rhetoric, threatening to “win back” Mariupol and Slovyansk, promising “to invade Kyiv and Lviv”. This rhetoric coincides with the reported significant reinforcement of the illegal armed groups with Russian personnel and hardware, formation of several attack groups of Russian regular troops and militants in the terrorist-controlled areas of Donbas, as well as growing concentration of the Russian troops along the state border with Ukraine. Only in the last 24 hours 60 pieces of armoury – 50 tanks and 10 command vehicles without identification symbols – arrived to the border from the direction of Rostov-on-Don.
The Russian Federation 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. Notably, Russia sent three such convoys in the period between 31 October and 4 November – all around the date of illegal so-called “elections” which should leave no illusions about the purpose of these convoys. The Russian Federation continues to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and brutally undermines the recognized principles of international humanitarian aid. Let me also stress that 70% of the last convoy were fuel trucks which moved in as we registered the increased movement of armoury of the illegal armed groups.
Alongside breaching the agreements on holding local elections in certain areas of Donbas through legitimate process, Russia failed to deliver upon undertaken commitments on other important provisions of the Minsk agreements, in particular with regard to the sustainable ceasefire; withdrawal of Russian troops and mercenaries from the Ukrainian territory; release of all hostages, including those illegally detained in Russia; establishment of effective control at the Ukrainian-Russian state border under the OSCE monitoring and verification.
It is a matter of serious concern that several incidents occurred with SMM UAVs in the terrorist effected areas, which again shows non-compliance of the illegal armed groups with the reached agreements.
The illegal armed groups in Donbas continued their terrorist activities aimed at intimidating peaceful population and inflicting losses upon the Ukrainian forces, which protect the liberated cities of Donbas. On the 2 November, for instance, a terroristic act was committed at a checkpoint in Mariupol, where car explosion took the lives of two Ukrainian servicemen. In total over 100 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 600 wounded since the cease-fire started. There are also numerous losses among civilians.
An awful tragedy happened yesterday as terrorists shelled a school playground in the vicinity of the Donetsk airport, leaving teenagers dead and wounded. The terrorists must be brought to justice for this grave crime and deaths, which result from their continuous shelling. This time the shelling came from the terrorist controlled town of Makeyevka. The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine requested yesterday that SMM monitors be sent immediately to the site and help investigate this awful crime. The Interior Ministry of Ukraine has launched a criminal investigation of the case.
Against the backdrop of above developments, the President of Ukraine chaired the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine meeting on 4 November 2014. The President emphasized that Ukraine considers resolution of the problems in the country’s east only by peaceful means and will act responsibly in compliance with the Minsk agreements, being at the same time ready to respond in case of a negative scenario.
The President recommended to submit to the Parliament the draft law on repealing the law of 16 September on special order of self-governance in certain parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
He stated that "we are ready to provide broad mandate, envisaged by the law, only to legally elected local government". A new law will be adopted if all parties return to fulfillment of the Minsk agreements, notably in relation to ceasefire, creation of a buffer zone, ensuring effective border control and militants' clear actions towards reversing the so-called “elections” of 2 November.
I again draw your attention to the anti-Ukrainian falsifications by the Russian media, which defy norms of ethics and morality. You can find the most flagrant and brutal examples of falsifications on the Mission’s Facebook page. These examples show the frightening extent to which the Russian media continue to incite hatred. We call on the Russian Federation to fulfill its OSCE commitments in the area of combating hate speech.
Ukraine continues to be gravely alarmed over the deteriorating situation in the occupied Crimea in the area of exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms. All major internationals actors are unanimous in their assessment of the human rights’ situation in Crimea under the Russian illegal occupation as grave and dire.
We also had an opportunity to get a first-hand information about the alarming developments on the ground at the Side-event: Human rights in Crimea, held last week in Vienna on the margins of the Third Supplementary human dimension meeting.
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.
Despite numerous calls there have been no positive development in relation to Nadiya Savchenko, Oleh Sentsov and other political prisoners from Ukraine, illegally detained by the Russian side and held behind bars under the fabricated charges. We urge the Russian authorities to release immediately these Ukrainian citizens, who are political prisoners in Russia.
I will conclude my statement by:
- calling upon all OSCE participating States to continue to be firm in seeking to halt the Russian aggression which has impact on the security of each country and each individual. More vigorous measures should be taken to effectively respond to the threats and challenges emanating from the Russian ongoing violations of the core principles of the Helsinki Final Act.
- reiterating our persistent call on the Russian Federation to respect sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, reverse the annexation of Crimea, which remains an integral part of Ukraine, and halt aggressive actions against Ukraine.
- urging Russia to recommit to the Minsk agreements and exert influence on the militants to do likewise.
Thank you, Mr.Chairman.