The Delegation of Ukraine delivered a statement at the session
Dear Mr. Chairman,
It is the third consecutive year that the Russian aggression against Ukraine continues unabated and the Annual Security Review Conference has to place a particular focus on its impact on the European security and ways of addressing the grave threats it poses to the entire OSCE region. In this connection we would like to recall the conclusion, made by the Panel of Eminent Persons in its Final Report “Back to Diplomacy”, which was presented at the last year’s OSCE Ministerial Council in Belgrade. The Panel, determining Russia’s actions in Crimea as “illegal” and “unprecedented in the post-war Europe”, has underlined that until this is addressed it is difficult to imagine a return to European security as a common project.
Two years ago Ukraine’s Foreign Minister spoke at the ASRC in this hall. We must note with regret that most of his points remain relevant today. Russia continues to flagrantly violate the OSCE fundamental principles and commitments, undermining the very basis of the OSCE concept of cooperative security. It has consolidated the illegal occupation of Crimea, accompanied by military build-up on the peninsula. It sends the weaponry and personnel to the occupied part of Donbas, thus fuelling the armed hostilities and undermining the peaceful efforts of Ukraine and its international partners.
Russia continues to apply and fine-tune its “hybrid war” concept. It aims at masking the aggression and avoiding isolation, staying at the negotiating table to achieve its goals by political and diplomatic means, backed up by military options.
Real deeds towards returning to the tenets of international law have not yet followed Moscow’s peaceful declarations. We consider dangerous for the future of the European security any attempt to make tacit acceptance of so-called “post-Crimean status quo” as an element of the normalization strategy.
As we meet today, the situation in the illegally occupied Crimea is marked by repressions and grave human rights violations, the Russian occupying authorities have not allowed due monitoring by international organizations. Since the SMM mandate extends to the entire territory of Ukraine, which includes the Crimean peninsula, it is essential that the mission uses all available instruments to monitor the human rights developments in this territory, illegally occupied by Russia. The situation in Donbas remains tense and fragile as the combined Russian-separatist forces continue armed provocations along the contact line. The last two months registered the highest toll of casualties in Donbas in 2016. Intensive shellings and attacks remain a sad daily reality for Ukrainian servicemen and civilian population of Donbas. The initial provisions of the Minsk Agreements on sustainable ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weapons have not been observed by the Russian hybrid forces in nearly two years since signing the documents.
The Russian hybrid forces resort to intimidation and deliberate attacks against the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission and its monitoring equipment. Three SMM UAVs were downed recently immediately after spotting concentrations of Russian heavy weaponry close to the line of contact. The monitors face significant impediments and intimidation, in particular at the border with Russia. These are all measures to “blind” the OSCE monitoring in the occupied areas of Donbas.
Military escalation is retained by Moscow as an important element of its destabilization strategy against Ukraine. Other elements include selective and distorted interpretation of the Minsk agreements and setting out political conditions for stopping the shellings.
There are a number of immediate steps, which are critically necessary and require a good-faith approach of Russia to advance the peaceful resolution:
• full and OSCE-verified implementation of the initial security provisions of the Minsk package of measures;
• the release of hostages and illegally detained persons on the basis of “all-for-all” principle, which applies equally to the Ukrainian citizens, who are held in illegal detention in Russia;
• resolving the problem of control at the Ukrainian-Russian state border, ensuring full and unhindered OSCE border monitoring and establishment of security zones in border areas of Ukraine and Russia, as agreed in Minsk.
We expect the Trilateral Contact Group of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE as a mediator, to continue efforts aimed at facilitating implementation of these immediate steps. It requires that Russia recognises its responsibility for implementing the agreements it has signed. The logic of the Minsk agreements and political resolution requires that the areas of Donbas, presently occupied by Russian troops and fighters, be de-occupied, illegal traffic from Russia be stopped and the border be placed under permanent international monitoring.
The needs of security are real and objective, the instruments of response must match these needs. Sharp deterioration in Donbas has made it clear that the international engagement and toolbox, assigned to respond to the conflict, should be significantly enhanced.
An armed police mission, deployed throughout the conflict-affected area, can address the needs for establishing a safe and secure environment, which is necessary for progress on political track of the Minsk agreements, in particular local elections in certain areas of Donbas. De-occupation and disarmament of the illegal armed groups are to be accomplished to ensure free expression of will of the local population in fair elections.
On other aspects of security we would emphasise that conventional arms control and CSBMs remain major instruments for ensuring military stability, predictability and transparency. Over the last two years we have made full use of existing mechanisms of the OSCE politico-military toolbox, in particular, those instruments, envisaged in the Vienna Document. The lessons learned highlight the importance of strengthening and modernizing the instruments in the field of CSBMs. They must be brought in line with the current military and security conditions. The current climate of insecurity and tension must not hamper, but foster meaningful progress in this area which would serve interests of all participating States and their people.
Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity remain violated, millions of people suffer, thousands were killed and wounded and yet Russia continues attempts to justify its aggression shifting the blame for security crisis on all and denying its own role. That is not dialogue that can lead to building confidence. It is a continuation of Russia’s strategy of deceptions and denials, aiming to mask its intervention into a neighbouring state.
Things will not return to normal without stopping Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and seeking correction of committed violations. The peaceful resolution should be based on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. This will be instrumental to restoring trust and confidence in the European security architecture and peaceful future. The unity and solidarity which the international community have firmly demonstrated are required to help accomplish this goal.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.