Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 14 May 2015
Despite the agreements signed in Minsk in September 2014 and February 2015, which have formed an agreed road-map for sustainable peaceful resolution in Ukraine’s east based on respect for territorial integrity, sovereignty and unity of Ukraine, the situation in Donbas remains tense and volatile due to the on-going violations by the Russian Federation and the illegal armed groups it supports.
The immediate first steps, stipulated by the Minsk Package, notably the comprehensive ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons and ensuring OSCE monitoring and verification, release of hostages remain unimplemented by Russia and its proxies. All of them are crucial for placing the de-escalation process on a solid basis.
Ceasefire violations by the illegal armed groups are registered on a daily basis with a number of casualties among the Ukrainian soldiers and civilians continuing to rapidly grow. 5 Ukrainian soldiers lost their lives and 50 were wounded over the period of 7-12 May in Donbas. At least 2 local civilians were killed over the recent days as a result of militants’ provocations.
We again draw attention of the Permanent Council that the militants continue to broadly use the heavy weapons that must have been withdrawn in line with the agreements reached in Minsk on 12 February. Over the past week the Ukrainian positions and the residential areas in their vicinity were regularly shelled with 120 mm mortars and 122 mm artillery. Cases of shellings with 152 mm artillery, tanks and MRLS GRAD were also registered. OSCE SMM, in particular, reported on GRAD shelling which targeted the village of Berdyanske on 7 May. The multiple rocket launcher systems, according to the Mission’s assessment, were located 6 km north-north-east, where the illegal armed groups are deployed.
We note with concern that the Mission continues to operate under the imposed restrictions by the illegal armed groups on its access and freedom of movement, in particular in the border area.
Such impediments to the SMM significantly limit its operational capacity to fulfill the mandate and assigned tasks under the Minsk agreements. We expect the Russian Federation and the militants it backs to grant the SMM with unfettered access throughout all areas, which are temporarily out of control by the Ukrainian authorities.
We strongly condemn the so-called “military parades” in the occupied Donetsk and Luhansk on 9 May, which grossly violate the letter and the spirit of the Minsk agreements, in particular paragraph 2 of the Minsk Package of measures. This deliberate provocation, which endangered the implementation of the Minsk agreements, requires due response from all the signatories of the Minsk agreements.
The military hardware, which was demonstrated and included main battle tanks T-72, larger caliber artillery, multiple rocket launcher systems GRAD, anti-aircraft systems, prove the scale of supplies that the militants receive from the Russian Federation.
Ensuring full implementation of the Minsk agreements remains an immediate top priority for Ukraine.
We remain committed to full and good-faith implementation of the Minsk agreements as the basis for peaceful solution and de-escalation in Donbas. Ukraine has shown consistency in implementation since the signing of the Minsk agreements of September 2014 and the Package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements of 12 February 2015.
The reached agreements provide framework for three specific, interlinked and consecutive stages of de-escalation, stabilization and restoration of Donbas. The de-escalation, which includes sustainable ceasefire; withdrawal of all heavy weapons; monitoring and verification by the OSCE; release of all hostages and illegally detained persons; full and unimpeded freedom of movement and access by the SMM, must be accomplished to create conditions for dealing with issues of political and economic processes and of humanitarian area.
We reiterate our support to the activities of the Trilateral Contact Group which must play an essential role in securing progress in the implementation of the Minsk agreements with the assistance of its working subgroups.
The working subgroups should immediately launch substantive and result-oriented discussions on practical implementation of the Minsk agreements, as was agreed at their meetings last week.
We expect the WSG on security issues to effectively ensure comprehensive and sustainable ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weapons of larger and smaller calibers under the OSCE monitoring and verification. The WSG on political issues should focus on discussing the modalities of the local elections, which must be held under the Ukrainian legislation and in accordance with the OSCE standards, with the active engagement of the ODIHR.
The activities of the humanitarian WSG must facilitate the release of all hostages and illegally detained persons on the basis of “all-for-all” principle, contribute to searching missing persons, supporting IDPs and ensuring unfettered access of the Ukrainian and international humanitarian aid to the affected areas of Donbas. We are extremely concerned over the destiny of almost 400 Ukrainian servicemen and civilians, who remain in captivity of the illegal armed groups and face torture and even killings according to numerous reports. Over 30 Ukrainian citizens are illegally detained in Russia.
The restoration of the regional economy will be the focus of the socio-economic WSG which is to hold its first meeting today. Ukraine is grateful to its international partners for the readiness to extend the necessary assistance.
We are ready for an active work in the TCG and its working subgroups to move forward in the de-escalation efforts. The full-scale dialogue on the future of Donbas requires that local elections, held under the Ukrainian legislation and in accordance with the OSCE standards, produce legitimate representatives of the area, affected by the conflict.
We consider the recent militants’ ultimatum on local elections as a clear sign of continuous unwillingness of the illegal armed groups and their masters to abide by undertaken Minsk commitments.
We continue to be alarmed over the situation in the area of exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.
The occupation authorities continue their repressive policy, which is mostly targeted the representatives of Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian communities. A report titled “The Fear Peninsula: Chronicle of Occupation and Violation of Human Rights in Crimea” and issued recently by a number of Ukrainian human rights NGOs, highlighted murders, tortures, persecution of journalists, fabricated criminal charges, unlawful searches, restriction of religious freedom and fight against dissidents as a part of the everyday life in the occupied Crimea.
We strongly condemn that the occupation authorities again impede the commemoration on 18 May of one of the most tragic events for the Crimean Tatars – the 1944 deportation of the Crimean Tatars from their native soil.
We call on the Russian occupying authorities to put a halt to human rights violations and allow free and unconditional access of the international monitors to Crimea to assess the situation on the ground.
As stated in the Declaration of four Heads of State in the Normandy format on 12 February 2015 – there is no alternative to an exclusively peaceful settlement. Leaders also expressed their full commitment “to undertake all possible individual and joint measures to this end”.
This is the commitment taken at the highest political level, including by the Russian Federation. If Russia is genuinely interested in putting an end to the devastating violence and deaths in eastern Ukraine, including the deaths of its own nameless soldiers sent to Donbas, it must stop destabilising Ukraine, halt military supplies to its proxies and withdraw all troops and military equipment. Genuine and good-faith implementation of the Minsk agreements is critical for bringing peace to Donbas.
We urge Russia to abandon the aggression against Ukraine and reverse the annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol which remain an integral part of Ukraine.
Thank you, Mr.Chairman.