Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 26 February 2015
I warmly welcome Chief Observer of the OSCE Observer Mission at two Russian checkpoints on the Russian-Ukrainian border, Mr. Paul Picard, to the Permanent Council and thank him for the presentation of the mission’s report.
We are grateful to the Mission for the regular reporting on the situation at the Russian Gukovo and Donetsk checkpoints. I express appreciation to you, Mr Picard, and all monitors of the Mission for your useful work despite restrictive mandate and small number of monitors. Reports of the mission represent a valuable source of objective and reliable information about developments on the two checkpoints at the time when respective checkpoints on the Ukrainian territory have been closed and are not controlled by the Ukrainian borderguards.
The mission regular reports indicate, in particular, high numbers of persons in military-style clothing crossing the border in both directions, the ways how they receive weapons, ammunition and equipment from militants on the Ukrainian side before being dispatched to assigned areas. The ease with which they cross border confirms the Russian support of the militants and violence in the east of Ukraine.
The observations of the mission reiterate the need for establishment of effective control at the Ukrainian-Russian border to prevent inflow of heavy weaponry, armed vehicles, armament, military equipment and personnel from Russia to Ukraine which is critical for achieving a sustainable de-escalation of the situation in Donbas.
Ukraine strictly adheres to the implementation of the Minsk agreements of 5 and 19 September 2014 and the “Package of measures” of 12 February, signed by the Trilateral Contact group and representatives of certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts as the framework for peaceful resolution in Donbas.
We emphasize the need for the full implementation of all provisions of the agreements. For the ceasefire to hold, which has not been the case so far, it is critical to immediately halt the inflow of weaponry and ammunition from the Russian territory into the east of Ukraine.
The Russian Federation further resorts to sending the so-called “humanitarian convoys” without consent and inspection by the Ukrainian authorities, ignoring the leading role of the ICRC and the principles of international humanitarian law. We reiterate that this illegal practice constitutes a flagrant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity.
The continuation of this illegal practice also runs counter to the “Package of measures” agreed in Minsk on 12 February, which envisages provision of humanitarian assistance based on international mechanisms. We urge Russia to fully respect international law and reached agreements.
Since establishment of this OSCE presence in accordance with the Berlin Joint Declaration of 2 July 2014, the security situation in the east of Ukraine has deteriorated due to the activities of the terrorist organizations operating in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, armed with heavy and sophisticated weapons.
This situation confirms that the deployment of the OSCE observers only at two Russian checkpoints will not allow to effectively address the existing grave challenges along the Ukrainian-Russian state border which was the primary concern of the meeting in Berlin.
In view of military escalation in the east of Ukraine we deem as imperative to reach progress towards substantial and broad OSCE monitoring of the Russian-Ukrainian border. We deem it necessary for stabilisation and peace to strengthen the OSCE monitoring on the Russian side of the Ukrainian-Russian border, expanding the mandate of the OSCE Observation Mission in Russian border checkpoints “Gukovo” and “Donetsk” to all sections of the border, adjacent to the terrorist-controlled areas of Donbas.
The Mission should also operate freely along the “green” border between these checkpoints to ensure comprehensive border monitoring; and should be able to conduct unannounced inspections.
This meaningful monitoring is necessary until the SMM can effectively perform this function on the Ukrainian side of the border and control is resumed by Ukrainian border guards.
This step will contribute to implementation of what had been agreed – ensuring permanent OSCE monitoring on the Ukrainian-Russian state border with the establishment of security zones on the territories of Ukraine and Russia.
We note with concern that the Mission had faced some impediments to freedom of movement within the Gukovo BCP. The Mission has not yet been provided with proper privileges and immunities, and call on the Russian Federation to resolve this issue as soon as possible.
I will conclude by emphasizing that the chance to stop hostilities on the ground and lay foundations for sustainable de-escalation must not be missed. We urge Russia as one of the signatories of the Minsk agreements to fully implement the undertaken commitments and allow for the necessary expansion of the OSCE mission at two Russian checkpoints to contribute to de-escalation and peace in Donbas.
I wish to once again thank Mr. Picard and his staff for their professional work.
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.