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Statement by the Delegation of Ukraine on "Foreign Terrorist Fighters from Russia in Eastern Ukraine”
27 May 2016 18:09

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 May 2016

Mr. Chairperson,

On this day exactly two years ago, 26 May 2014, a large group of terrorists, largely consisting of Russian citizens, made an attempt to seize the Donetsk International Airport. It was a failed attempt due to professionalism of the Ukrainian units of special forces who on the same day freed the airport from the terrorists. We would like to show the photographs of how the airport looked like when the terrorist groups first attempted to seize it, and how it looked when the Ukrainian forces had to withdraw from it in January 2015 after heroical defence over months of constant attacks by the combined Russian-separatist forces.

We would also like to show the footage of May 2014 from one of the airport security cameras which captures the terrorists entering the building and the leading role of someone Aleksandr Boroday, citizen of the Russian Federation and at that time the so-called “prime-minister of the DPR” (watch Video). This explicit act of terrorism was one in a long row of numerous terrorist activities perpetrated by Russian fighters against the Government and citizens of Ukraine.

The mentioned A.Boroday together with some others, including the so called “prime-minister of the LPR” and citizen of the Russian Federation Marat Bashirov, the so called “prosecutor -general of the DPR” and citizen of the Russian Federation R.Khalikov, or the officer of the Russian military intelligence Igor Girkin who was leading the seizure of the town of Slovyansk, have returned back to Russia, resumed comfortable and increasingly public life in Moscow, handing out comments to the media. They do so despite the fact that their criminal activities on the territory of Ukraine fall under the qualification of 2 articles of the Russian Penal Code. In particular, part 2 of Article 208 prescribes criminal responsibility for participation in illegal armed formation on a territory of a foreign state, unless such participation does not contradict the interests of the Russian Federation. This caveat, contained in the Article, may well explain why such individuals were sent to Donbas in the first place and why they are now free to continue their activities in Russia with its court system considering the participation in illegal armed formations in Ukraine as an extenuating circumstance.

Mr. Chairperson,

The problem of thousands of Russian citizens, including Russian Don Cossacks, who have arrived into the Donbas region of Ukraine to join illegal armed groups and perpetrate crimes against the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian state continues remains highly acute. Their criminal acts on the Ukrainian territory, including in Mariupol, Volnovakha, Kramatorsk, Donetsk, Kherson, Odessa and Kharkiv, fall under the anti-terrorism legislation of Ukraine, just as such acts fall under the anti-terrorism legislation in Russia. The Russian military continues to train terrorists and fighters of illegal armed formations at the military camps set up in the occupied Crimea and parts of Donbas as well as in the Rostov oblast of the Russian Federation. The factual evidence at the disposal of the Ukrainian authorities provided a solid ground for initiating respective proceedings under the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. While within the OSCE the Russian Federation attempts to present itself as a champion for combating terrorism, it continues to politically condone and practically support and finance terrorist activities on the territory of Ukraine.

The OSCE Ministerial Council Declaration MC.DOC/5/14, adopted in Basel in 2014, recalls our commitment to work together to prevent, suppress, investigate and prosecute terrorism-related acts and contains a number of important measures to counter the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters. In particular, they include prevention of movement of foreign terrorist fighters through effective border control, countering the use of Internet for recruiting foreign terrorist fighters, informing each other about specific efforts to counter the threat of foreign terrorist fighters.

Meanwhile, the OSCE Оbsеrvеr Mission at two Russian checkpoints on the Russian-Ukrainian border continues to constantly report on high numbers of persons in military-style clothing crossing the border in both directions. Since the beginning оf the Mission's operation in July 2014 over 27.000 crossings of this category have been rероrtеd by the Mission from only two BCPs where the mission has the ability to monitor merely a 40 metres stretch of a 400 km Ukrainian-Russian state border segment not controlled by the Ukrainian authorities. Against this backdrop, the Russian Federation continues to ignore serious concerns raised in this hall by Ukraine and other OSCE participating States. While the Russian delegation claims the presence of due controls along the border, it so far failed to explain how the sophisticated weapons and military equipment, used exclusively by the Russian Armed Forces, made their way to Donbas, including TOS-1 “Buratino” and R-330 “Zhytel” reported by the SMM.

Mr. Chairperson

In the context of implementation of the Minsk agreements we wish to recall that the Minsk Protocol on implementation of the Peace plan of President P.Poroshenko and peace initiatives of President V.Putin envisages, in particular, permanent OSCE monitoring and the establishment of security zones along the Ukrainian-Russian state border in border areas of both Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Establishment of a permanent monitoring by the SMM, taking full account of the proposed three-stage plan, will be an essential measure on the Ukrainian side of the border, however implementation of this part of the agreements on the Russian side of the border is still pending and does not register any progress. In this connection we encourage the OSCE Chairmanship, the OSCE Secretariat, in particular the Transnational Threats Department, to promptly put forward and vigorously pursue dialogue on implementation of respective proposals and recommendations.

In view of continuous inflow of Russian citizens who act as terrorist fighters in the east of Ukraine we urge Russia to uphold the OSCE commitments under the Basel MC Declaration and take action to suppress recruitment and movement of those fighters from Russia into Ukraine, to stop their training, to take them to responsibility for their criminal activities. Such measures would not only stem from implementation of Russia’s national legislation and its international obligations and commitments, but also from commitments, undertaken by Russia under the Minsk agreements, on withdrawal of foreign armed groups, fighters and mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine and establishment of a security zone in border areas of Ukraine and Russia, with the OSCE permanent monitoring and verification at the border.

Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

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