convened following the terrorist act by the pro-Russian militants in Mariupol
We thank the Serbian Chairmanship for convening this special Permanent Council meeting upon request of the Ukrainian delegation. This request was prompted by a heinous terrorist attack committed by the Russia-backed militants in the city of Mariupol on January 24, 2015. This massive barrage by Grad rockets killed 30 innocent civilians, including children, and wounded over 100. Due to the tragic death of civilians in Mariupol, January 25 was proclaimed the Day of Mourning in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian nation deeply appreciates the support and solidarity of the international community in condemning this barbaric attack.
A worrying surge in violence over the past week in the eastern Ukraine, the terrorist attacks in Volnovahka, Donetsk and Mariupol demonstrate Russia’s unabated aggression against my country and its failure to uphold the Minsk agreements, thus undermining the prospects for peace in Ukraine. As we meet today, militants continue shelling of Donetsk, Debaltseve (Donetsk oblast), Popasna, Stanitsa Luhanska, Shchastya (Luhansk oblast) and other towns along the line of contact.
Regretfully, repeated calls of the international community for respect of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity have not been heeded by the Russian Federation. The Russian Federation bears full responsibility for the continued aggression, a grave crime against peace under international law, which endangers regional, European and global security.
We were all appalled by the indiscriminate GRAD multiple rocket attacks against the peaceful residents of Mariupol by the Russia-backed militants on January 24, 2015, which led to numerous casualties.
While Russia attempts to justify its aggression against Ukraine on the false pretext of “protection of the Russian-speaking compatriots”, on Saturday mainly Russian-speaking residents of Mariupol experienced in full what such “protection” means: death and destruction, terror and intimidation. According to the local authorities, the GRAD shells targeted, in particular, 53 multistory buildings, 4 schools and 3 kindergartens.
These attacks came after the militants, supplied from Russia with sophisticated weaponry including Grads, artillery systems, modern tanks and backed by an influx of Russian armed forces and mercenaries, announced the launch of a new offensive, in flagrant violation of the Minsk agreements. On January 24, the leader of the terrorist “Donetsk people’s republic” Zakharchenko declared that “today the offensive on Mariupol started”, ruling out the implementation of the Minsk agreements. His announcements were promptly disseminated by the Russian state propaganda media.
Ukraine has undeniable evidence of Russia's support of terrorists in the Donbas. Interception of radio and phone conversations by the Security Service of Ukraine irrefutably indicates that the attack was organized by terrorists supported by Russia. These materials were presented today at a briefing of the Security Service of Ukraine and they are available for the download at the SSU web-site.
Russia's failure to condemn this terrorist act and other crimes committed by the militants in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, combined with its continuous disregard for full implementation of the Minsk agreements in their entirety, form part and parcel for the understanding of why civilians continue to die in the east of Ukraine and the peace prospects are getting dimmer.
We commend the efforts undertaken by the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine to promptly establish and report facts from the ground. The Mission’s initial assessments, contained in the SMM spot report of January 24, 2015, that the residential areas of Mariupol were shelled from the terrorist-controlled areas, have reaffirmed the eyewitness’ accounts and findings of the competent authorities of Ukraine.
The attack has been qualified by the prosecutor’s office of the Donetsk oblast as a “terrorist act”. The crime will be thoroughly investigated by the competent authorities to make sure that perpetrators of this heinous act are brought to account.
Following the terrorist attack the President of Ukraine stated that “bloody murder of dozens of civilians and wounding of nearly a hundred of people by pro-Russian terrorists in Mariupol is not merely a terrorist act. It is a crime against humanity that falls under the jurisdiction of the ICC.”
In view of the Mariupol tragedy and intensive attacks by militants on other towns along the line of contact, on January 25 the meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine was held on emergency measures to counter the threats from Russia and illegal armed groups. The Council adopted a set of decisions on strengthening defensive capabilities of the state and counter-terrorism measures. Moreover, the NSDC authorized the Government of Ukraine to initiate a procedure before the International Criminal Court in the Hague regarding crimes against humanity, committed by terrorists against Ukrainian citizens in 2014-2015.
Ukraine stands fully committed to implementing the Minsk agreements, which provide a solid framework for the peaceful solution of the crisis. We are also interested in the earliest meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group with other signatories of the Minsk agreements to immediately de-escalate situation on the ground and make progress in full implementation of the Minsk agreements. We stand for peace. In this regard we note the statement by the Trilateral Contact Group on its readiness for a meeting with all signatories of the Minsk documents at any time and express appreciation of the respective efforts of the CiO Personal Representative Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini.
In order for the situation in eastern Ukraine to stabilize, it is critical that all foreign troops, military equipment, fighters and mercenaries are withdrawn from the territory of Ukraine and the Ukrainian-Russian border is effectively secured under OSCE monitoring and verification. We call on the Chairmanship to pursue strengthening of the OSCE monitoring on the Russian side of the Ukrainian-Russian border, expanding the mandate of the OSCE Observation mission in “Gukovo” and “Donetsk” to all sections of the border, adjacent to the terrorist-controlled areas of Donbas.
As yet, in over 4 months since signing of the Minsk agreements, we have registered no practical steps by the Russian Federation and Russia-backed militants towards their implementation. Russia continued to reinforce the illegal armed groups and send its troops, which now prompts the militants to announce their offensive along the entire line of contact.
We urge Russia to start implementing the Minsk agreements without delay in their entirety, including through exerting its influence over the illegal armed groups to abide by cease-fire regime, immediately withdrawing its regular troops and mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine, halting violations of the state border with Ukraine, and putting an end to its sabotage of OSCE participating states efforts to establish a meaningful OSCE monitoring along the entire segment of the border not controlled by Ukrainian borderguards.
Our joint response to terrorists and those, who support, reinforce and guide them, must be firm and resolute. More decisive steps are needed in combating all forms of terrorism, including a state-sponsored terrorism.
We reiterate our call on the OSCE participating States to recognize the so-called “Donetsk people’s republic” and “Luhansk people’s republic” as terrorist organizations.
We underline that Russia, which continues to support the terrorist activities in Ukraine, including by sending its regular troops to Ukraine, shares responsibility for killing of innocent civilians in Volnovakha, Debaltseve, Donetsk, Mariupol and many other towns and villages in Ukraine in recent weeks.
We urge Russia to immediately return to respect of the fundamental principles enshrined in the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act and put an end to its aggression and expansionist policy, including through immediate withdrawal of all its armed forces and mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine, establishing effective control of the Ukrainian-Russian border and reversal of the illegal occupation and annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.
Thank you, Mr.Chairman.