Statement by the Delegation of Ukraine, delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna at the special meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 15 December 2015
The issue of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, which resulted in illegal occupation and annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, as well as in escalation in the east of Ukraine, dominated the agenda of the OSCE and other international fora in 2014.
Regrettably, despite concerted efforts of the international community to stimulate Russia’s return to the tenets of international law, we register no genuine interest of the Russian Federation to correct flagrant violations of the OSCE principles and commitments and contribute to de-escalation. Moreover, further steps had been taken by Moscow that lead to deterioration of security situation. Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine should remain in the focus of the OSCE as it imperils European and international peace and security and inflicts damage to the Organization and the security of all participating States.
Ukraine is paying extremely high price for geopolitical ambitions of its neighbour which lead to thousands of deaths. Today is again a day of national mourning in Ukraine. The Ukrainian society was shaken by a tragedy near Volnovakha, Donetsk oblast where pro-Russian terrorists killed 12 and wounded 16 civilians, targeting a passenger bus with a GRAD missile. The shelling was carried out from Dokuchayevsk which is under control of the illegal armed groups. The facts available point out that the tragedy was not a coincidence. As there are no positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces near the checkpoint, where the bus was hit, the terrorists fired at the civilians intentionally.
As the President of Ukraine stated in his Address to the Nation: “DPR-LPR gangsters, who have nothing sacred but devalued rubles, as well as those who support them, provide them with weapons, train and inspire them for bloody crimes are responsible for these deaths”.
We are grateful to the Serbian Chairmanship for strong condemnation of this barbaric act and call the OSCE to adopt a relevant Declaration. We must redouble our efforts to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations as a crime that has no justification.
This tragedy together with many other serious violations of cease-fire, indicate that the situation on the ground spirals in the menacing direction due to intensification of attacks and provocations by the illegal armed groups, supported by Moscow.
Despite the silence regime, established since 9 December 2014, the number of cases of artillery and mortar shelling by pro-Russian terrorists is constantly growing. From Monday to Wednesday this week the Ukrainian positions and residential areas were shelled 288 times. On the day of tragedy near Volnovakha, a 2 year-old girl was killed in the village of Hranitne, Donetsk oblast, following the terrorist shelling. The Ukrainian troops respond to attacks only when there is a direct danger to life of servicemen and civilians.
We draw again the attention of the Permanent Council to the fact that the illegal armed groups intensify their attack and shelling after receiving reinforcements from the territory of the Russian Federation, also in the form of the Russian so-called “humanitarian convoys”. We reiterate our condemnation of this unacceptable practice, which has nothing in common with the very notion of the humanitarian aid to the civilian population of Donbas.
Recent weeks have been marked by consolidation of the illegal armed groups, reinforced with Russian regular troops and hardware. Local residents observe numerous military columns of heavy weapons, moving westwards though terrorist-controlled areas of Donbas. According to photo- and video-evidence these columns include military hardware of Russian origin, which has never been exported to Ukraine. Two days ago the terrorists used for the first time a 220-mm heavy flame-thrower system “Buratino” (“Pinocchio”) near the settlement of Vesele. It is a powerful thermobaric weapon which burns out everything alive, it was used by the Soviet forces in Afghanistan, by the Russian Army in Сhechnya and now it found the way to Donbas. We also register broad employment of sophisticated means of radio-electronic warfare. These appear to be recent supplies from Russia on top of combat tanks, heavy artillery, MRLSs, APCs and other military hardware. According to operative information, there are over 7,5 thousand Russian regular troops on Ukrainian territory in Donbas.
Increased influx of Russian military personnel and hardware, intensification of terrorist attacks and hostile rhetoric of militants may testify to preparation of offensive operations by the illegal armed groups. We warn against any attempts to escalate situation to the level of full-scale armed hostilities as it will have unpredictable security implications for the entire region.
We denounce provocative statements by Russian officials, who tried to shift responsibility for violations onto Ukraine.
Ukraine remains committed to peaceful settlement of the crisis, which should be based on the Minsk agreements and full respect for territorial integrity, sovereignty and political unity of Ukraine.
We welcome the renewed dialogue in the “Normandy format”, in particular the ministerial meeting in Berlin on 12 January, which reconfirmed that the basis for conflict resolution are the Minsk agreements that have to be implemented by all sides in their entirety and reiterated the necessity to fully respect the regime of quite.
We are ready to further discuss the status of Donbas in accordance with the legitimate demands of local population. The President of Ukraine, in particular, stated that Donbas could obtain a special economic status with a special regime of trade relations with the EU and Russia. For this dialogue to take place legitimate local elections must be held under the Ukrainian law as envisaged by the Minsk Protocol.
We urge the Russian Federation to make concrete and meaningful steps towards implementation of the Minsk agreements in particular in relation to sustainable cease-fire, release of all hostages and illegally detained persons, withdrawal of Russian troops, armaments, fighters and mercenaries from Ukraine, ensuring permanent OSCE monitoring of Ukrainian-Russian border with the creation of security zone in areas adjacent to the border in the two countries. We urge Russia to honour the commitments it has undertaken and stop the activities that undermine the peace process in the east of Ukraine.
We continue to be deeply alarmed over the deteriorating situation in the area of exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, which remain an integral part of Ukraine. Ukraine is particularly concerned over the growing pressure against the Crimean Tatars, ethnic Ukrainians, and all those who have refused Russian citizenship.
We urge the Russian Federation, which illegally occupied and annexed Crimea, to stop all human rights violations on the peninsula and to facilitate free and unconditional access of the international monitors to Crimea. Until now the occupying authorities have not made steps in this direction.
In view of the dangerous developments in Ukraine’s Donbas, where the illegal armed groups, with direct support and engagement from Russia, consolidate their terrorist activities, we highly value the solidarity of the OSCE participating States with Ukraine in countering the Russian aggression.
It remains highly relevant and important to continue to pursue measures which would stimulate Russia’s return to respect of imperative norms of international law and the OSCE principles and commitments.
We continue to urge Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine, stop reinforcing the terrorist organizations with personnel and weapons, cease its destabilizing and provocative actions in Ukraine, and release all hostages. Russia must end its occupation of Crimea, which remains an integral part of Ukraine.
Thank you, Mr.Chairman.