Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 11 December 2014
The OSCE Ministerial Council, which took place last week in Basel, demonstrated that flagrant violations of the OSCE principles and commitments, stemming from the Russian aggression against Ukraine, jeopardize the vision of a free, democratic, common and indivisible Euro-Atlantic and Eurasian security community.
We are grateful for the overwhelming firm support offered to Ukraine by the Ministers and Heads of delegations. We witnessed clear condemnation of Russian aggression against Ukraine in Crimea and Donbas. We registered calls on the Russian Federation to halt its aggressive actions and to fully abide by its obligations under the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and other norms and principles of international law.
As the Ministers met in Basel, it was 20 years since the signing of the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances for Ukraine, which was violated by Russia as a state-guarantor. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov claimed few days ago that the Budapest Memorandum provided Ukraine with “negative” security assurances only, notably that nuclear weapons will not be used against Ukraine.
In this regard I would like to remind of what the Russian Federation has in particular committed to under this document:
“… to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine;
… to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with the UN Charter…”
I kindly ask my distinguished Russian colleague to draw attention of his capital to these commitments which have been and continue to be grossly violated by Moscow.
The Ministerial Council once again revealed that due to gross violations of norms of international law and the core OSCE principles Russia found itself in self-imposed isolation.
We regret that despite numerous calls of the international community the Russian Federation fails to correct the violations of the fundamental OSCE principles and commitments and continues to pursue its aggression against Ukraine.
Restoring the respect for the OSCE principles and commitments, ensuring their full implementation will be the most crucial task for our Organization to avert the danger of further erosion of the security and destabilization in the OSCE area.
While facing the gravest threats ever to its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, Ukraine remains committed to peaceful resolution of the crisis. As of 10 a.m. December 9, a silence regime in Donbas was declared, testifying again to Ukraine’s persistency in efforts to stop hostilities and protect human lives.
We consider this step to underpin our dialogue within the Trilateral Contact Group, consisting of the representatives of Ukraine, OSCE and Russia, to discuss movement towards de-escalation on the ground and full implementation of the Minsk agreements.
We note with deep concern that the first day of the silence regime in Donbas was marked by 14 cases of violations of ceasefire by pro-Russian militants. In the last 24 hours 22 such violations were registered leading to losses among Ukrainian servicemen. The shellings of the residential areas and the positions of the Ukrainian forces remain the main threat to life for peaceful civilians and Ukrainian servicemen. Among tragic incidents that happened recently is killing of two children in Avdiyivka, a small town close to the Donetsk airport, following the terrorist shelling on 8 December.
The most intensive fire was recently registered in the vicinity of Debaltseve, where the terrorists use heavy artillery and multiple rocket launcher systems. Among the main hot spots, being subjects to persistent attacks by the Russian troops and illegal armed groups, are the Donetsk airport, Mariupol, Schastia and Bakhmutivka road.
We view as unacceptable the situation when at least 684 Ukrainian citizens, both servicemen and civilians, are still held hostage with many of them suffering from regular torture and humiliation. We expect the Russian Federation to exert its influence to force patronized illegal armed groups to speed up the release of hostages in line with the Minsk agreements.
The situation in the areas, controlled by Russian military and the illegal armed groups, continues to be dire. We offer our condolences to our Polish colleagues over the incident that happened with a citizen of Poland in Donetsk, who was killed by armed militants following an ordinary traffic accident. Reports from the ground indicate it was not a single incident.
This is not for the first time that we draw the attention of the Permanent Council to the clear linkage between arrivals of the so-called “humanitarian convoys” from the Russian Federation and intensification of attacks and shellings by the militants.
In view of the Russian intention to continue reinforcements of the illegal armed groups under the guise of “humanitarian aid” we reiterate our condemnation of this unacceptable practice. Ukraine supports international cooperation to provide the population of the terrorist-affected areas with the necessary aid. These international efforts should be based on the principles of international law, including those of inviolability of borders, respect to sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, Ukrainian legislation and should take into account the leading role of the ICRC.
We also underline that resumption of the efficient control at the Ukrainian-Russian state border remains crucial for ensuring the effectiveness of our collective efforts aimed at de-escalation and peaceful resolution.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We remain deeply concerned over the alarming situation in the area of exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.
We were appalled by the recent decision of the Russian occupying authorities to ban public events that the Crimean Tatar community traditionally holds on the occasion of the Human Rights Day. Those Crimean Tatar activists who attempted to appeal against this illegal ban were further intimidated and summoned to the so-called “prosecutor’s office”.
The Russian Federation as the occupying power bears responsibility for halting the policy of repressions and intimidation of the Ukrainian, Crimean Tatar and other ethnic communities. We urge to allow access of international observers to monitor the situation on the ground.
I would like to conclude by referring again to the Basel Ministerial Council and persistent calls on the Russian Federation to return to tenets of international law and the Helsinki Decalogue by ensuring full respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
We urge the Russian Federation to undertake practical steps towards restoring respect for the OSCE principles and commitments, in particular to withdraw its forces from the territory of my country, stop reinforcing the illegal armed groups, refrain from further aggressive actions against my country and reverse annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.
Thank you, Mr.Chairman