Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna, at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 22 October 2015
It remains encouraging that relative calm marked the situation in Donbas over the recent weeks with the ceasefire being largely held. Making this trend sustainable and comprehensive will be crucial for progress in implementation of other provisions of the Minsk agreements as a basis for peaceful resolution.
I regret to inform that the illegal armed groups have not yet halted their provocations against the Ukrainian forces. In particular, over the past week the Ukrainian positions near Pisky and Shyrokine were attacked with small arms fire of the militants.
Such armed provocations do not only pose a threat to life but represent a serious impediment to the demining activities carried out by the Ukrainian forces and much needed by the people in the affected areas. At the meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group and its security sub-group, held in Minsk on 20 October, the issue of demining was considered among the most pressing. We therefore reiterate the responsibility of the Russian Federation to exert influence on the illegal armed groups it supports to stop armed provocations, which undermine the de-escalation process and prolong the hardships of civilian population.
Ukraine remains committed to implement the Minsk agreements fully and in good faith. The process of withdrawal of weapons by the Ukrainian forces under the Addendum to the Minsk Package of measures continues in line with the agreed modalities and timeframe. The withdrawal process in Luhansk oblast, including the SMM verification, has already been completed. Since 20 October the Ukrainian forces have proceeded to withdrawal of tanks, artillery below 100 mm caliber and mortars below 120 mm caliber in Donetsk oblast – directions of Debaltseve, Mariupol, Donetsk.
Effective SMM monitoring and verification is critical for de-escalation efforts. This was also acknowledged at the Normandy Summit in Paris on 2 October where all participants agreed on the necessity of freedom of movement and unfettered access by the SMM, including to the border areas between Ukraine and Russia. However, the SMM reports continue to prove a different situation. Between 15 –20 October the SMM informed of 9 cases of denial of access, all took place in militant-controlled territory. The border area in Luhansk oblast remains inaccessible for the SMM monitors because of systematic restrictions and there is still no full access to the border area in Donetsk oblast.
We view as an unacceptable and condemn any intimidation of the monitors, as reported by SMM about an incident in militant-controlled village of Lukove.
The SMM continues to regularly inform of jamming of their UAVs during the flights over the occupied areas, in particular, where the Russian advanced jamming system R330 Zhytel was spotted. The jamming aims to conceal the ongoing concentration of heavy weapons in occupied territories, violating the respective withdrawal lines.
We emphasize that these impediments to the SMM activities run counter to the outcomes of the Normandy Summit in Paris. We reiterate our call on Russia to promptly take steps allowing unhindered performance by the OSCE SMM of its functions throughout the occupied areas, in particular at the border area.
Dire humanitarian situation in the occupied areas of Donbas is a matter of deep concern and was again discussed in Minsk on 20 October. It is outraging that the international humanitarian organizations, except the ICRC, are still banned from providing assistance to the population in occupied areas of Donbas. The militants continue to block the delivery of over 16 000 tons of the UN aid, including food, vaccines and other medicine, building materials.
While Russia continues to stall resolution of this urgent issue, it sends the so-called “humanitarian convoys”, deliberately violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. One such convoy again broke into Ukraine last week and one broke in today. We condemn this practice of the Russian Federation which also runs contrary to the Minsk agreements. We emphasise the need for the immediate establishment of an international mechanism for delivery and distribution of humanitarian aid in the occupied areas of Donbas, as envisaged by the Minsk Package of measures.
In the humanitarian area we also urge the Russian Federation to speed up the release of all hostages and illegally detained persons on the basis of “all-for-all” principle. We emphasize that blackmail and ultimatums, as we again experienced , are unacceptable and breach the commitments under the Minsk agreements. We insist on the release without any exceptions, delays and unjustified preconditions.
On 28 September the OSCE SMM reported on the explosion that occurred a day earlier in Odesa at the headquarters of the Ukraine’s Security Service regional department. Investigation at the scene qualified it as a terrorist act.
On 19 October the Ukrainian law enforcement in Odesa detained 3 persons suspected of committing this terrorist act. Explosives and other evidence were retrieved from their flat. The leader of this criminal group confessed of training in a military camp on the territory of the Russian Federation and of receiving instructions, in particular regarding the terrorist act of 27 September, from his superiors in Russia.
This is yet another in a chain of evidence that attempts to destabilize the situation in Ukraine and the accompanying terrorist activities are masterminded in and managed from Russia.
This reality is so much different from Russia’s declarations on commitment to fighting terrorism. We urge Russia to stop these criminal acts and strictly abide by its counter-terrorist commitments and obligations, including on countering the phenomena of foreign terrorist fighters.
We condemn Russia’s steps aimed at consolidating illegal occupation and annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
We express our resolute protest over the Russian Government’s decision to include Crimean cultural sites to the register of Russia’s cultural heritage. We reiterate that these illegal decisions, expropriation of the Ukrainian property in the occupied peninsula, flagrantly violate international law and are null and void.
We reiterate that Russia as an occupying power bears full responsibility for violations of norms of international law and human rights on the peninsula.
In the discussions in the Permanent Council we once and again hear from the Russian delegation its claim on the so called internal nature of the conflict in Ukraine. We emphasise in this respect that Moscow has employed this narrative as it sent its troops to illegally occupy Ukraine’s Crimea and attempted its annexation, as it instigated conflict in Donbas setting up there terrorist structures led by Russian citizens and special operations operatives, supported by Russian mercenaries and Russian weaponry. Moscow continued its denials of involvement as it shelled positions of Ukrainian army from the Russian territory and later resorted to direct invasion of its troops into the territory of Ukraine. A report released on Monday, 19 October 2015, by Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence specifies the strength and unit composition of invading Russian troops of August 2014.
In over 1 year since the signing of the Minsk Protocol of September 2014, we only now experience cautious optimism on implementation of its paragraph 1 concerning immediate ceasefire, the Russian troops remain present in Donbas and blended with the militants under the same control and command structures and procurement system, Russia established training camps for militants in the occupied Donbas and Crimea and in its own territory maintaining a constant flow of terrorist fighters into Ukraine. Russia has classified information on losses of its military in peaceful time. The only deputy of Russia’s State Duma who voted against illegal annexation of Crimea became subject to criminal investigation, was deprived of parliamentary immunity and last week Duma consented to his arrest. The deputy of Pskov Regional Council, who in August 2014 put a spotlight on the burials of Pskov division paratroopers after reports of combat in Donbas, was last month deprived of his seat on the Council.
19 months of Russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine have produced irrefutable material evidence and numerous eye-witness accounts of Russia’s unprovoked armed aggression. As Moscow’s decisions and actions led to violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and sparked a conflict in Donbas, it is also Moscow’s responsibility to face its obligations and to contribute to political resolution of the conflict as per commitments undertaken in Minsk and based on respect to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The efforts at political resolution require, in particular, that the affected areas of Donbas be de-occupied from Russian troops, weaponry and mercenaries, thus setting the space for conduct of local elections in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation, OSCE standards and under the OSCE/ODIHR monitoring which would produce legitimate representatives of those areas.
We urge Russia to implement in full its commitments under the Minsk agreements as an agreed road-map for resolution of the conflict instigated by Russia itself. We urge Russia to put an end to its aggression against Ukraine and reverse the illegal occupation and annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, which remain an integral part of Ukraine.
Thank you, Mr.Chairman.