Відень, 23 червня ц.р.
The subject of the Russian aggression against Ukraine and its flagrant violations of the norms and principles of international law continues to dominate the agenda of the OSCE and other international frameworks due to their detrimental effect for security in the entire OSCE region and broader.
On 10 July the OSCE Chairmanship plans to convene a high-level meeting, devoted to the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act. It is of regret that our previous expectations, related to this anniversary, are no more relevant - we are now much further from the vision of the security community. The very foundations of our cooperation within the Organization have been undermined.
The OSCE has faced a type of conflict marked with attempts by the violator to mask its full-fledged aggression by sending mercenaries and troops without insignia, reinforcing their proxies with weaponry and denying any involvement with all might of the state propaganda. This is how the concept of “hybrid war” is applied by the Russian Federation against Ukraine.
It will soon be one year and a half since Ukraine has been subjected to Russia’s aggression. All of you are aware of the outcomes – Crimea and Sevastopol have been forcibly annexed and turned into a militarized grey zone of grave human rights violations, Donbas has been plunged into violence. About 7 percent of Ukraine were illegally occupied and are now temporarily out of control of Ukraine’s authorities.
The conflict in Donbas is of completely artificial nature as it has no ethnic, religious or historical backgrounds. Russian aggression is the only root cause of the crisis and the security threats for Europe, the OSCE region and the existing international order.
The Russian Federation permanently fuels the hostilities in Donbas. Multi-faceted Russian aggression serves a practical purpose – to exert influence on Ukraine’s internal and foreign policy to make it impossible for the Ukrainian nation to fulfill its European aspirations.
We effectively observe the attempts of the Russian Federation to revive the Soviet doctrine of limited sovereignty of Brezhnev times. I need hardly to recall the destructive outcomes of this doctrine, highlighted, in particular, by suppression of the “Prague spring” and the war in Afghanistan.
It is clear for Ukraine and must be clear for everyone that allowing Russia to succeed with its strategies, Ukraine will not be the only one to lose. The credibility of the international frameworks, underpinned by values and their protection, and the rule-based security architecture will be placed into serious question with unpredictable consequences for the security environment.
At the same time, I am far from thinking this Moscow-written scenario is bound to succeed. There are three primary considerations to this effect. First and foremost, over 2014-2015 the Ukrainian nation has clearly demonstrated it is ready to defend its country and to struggle for its European future. The second is the unity of purpose among the Ukrainian leadership to vigorously pursue the reform process to make Ukraine a democratic and prosperous state. And third - the international solidarity with Ukraine, marked with overwhelming support for my country, for the rule of law in international affairs and condemnation of the Russian aggression.
We highly appreciate international efforts aimed at stimulating Russia’s return to the tenets of international law. The OSCE contribution has been an important part of the international community’s response to the threats stemming from the Russian aggression against Ukraine. We positively assess the OSCE activities on the ground, in particular those conducted by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. I wish to note with satisfaction the good level of co-operation developed between the SMM and the Ukrainian authorities on various aspects of the mission’s activities, in particular those related to the implementation of the Minsk agreements.
It was a year ago that the President of Ukraine presented his Peace Plan aimed at restoring peace and order as well as ensuring the safety and legitimate interests of all citizens of Ukraine. The 2014 ASRC, by the way, was among the first international platforms for presentation of the above Plan.
Regrettably, de-escalation and support of our peaceful initiative was not part of Russia’s plans. Instead, we witnessed an increased inflow from Russia of mercenaries and sophisticated weaponry and eventually a direct incursion of Russian troops. The price of this unwillingness was extremely tragic and high: over 8 thousand killed, including the passengers of the MH17 flight, over a million of displaced persons and regional infrastructure severely destroyed.
Over many months we have provided the participating States with numerous evidence of direct Russian military involvement in Ukraine’s east. As Russian representative today is likely to deny again Russia’s role in escalation in Donbas, we again share with the participants a presentation on the weaponry present on the ground, which is exclusively used by the Russian military.
Ukraine remains fully devoted to peace and peaceful resolution. As the President of Ukraine said recently: “The conflict in Donbas would have been far behind if Moscow wanted peace as much as Kiyv wants it.” We believe that the Minsk agreements, signed in September 2014 and on 12 February 2015, remain an agreed roadmap for peaceful solution in Donbas, which must be implemented.
In strict compliance with the agreements Ukraine has ceased fire on 15 February and completed the withdrawal of heavy weapons in line with agreed modalities. Ukraine has been ready to proceed to withdrawal of mortars and heavy weapons below 100 mm as well as tanks in line with the initiative agreed at the Normandy meeting in Berlin on 13 April.
We have adopted the legislation on the special order of self-governance in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and specifying the territory of its application. We have laid ground to holding free and fair local elections in those areas, which, as agreed, must be held in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation and the OSCE/ODIHR standards.
The Ukrainian authorities have shown resolve in achieving decentralization of power and spearheading the efforts on Constitutional reform in a transparent and inclusive manner.
The Government of Ukraine and the local authorities do their best to address the plight of the population affected by the conflict in Donbas. We keep allocating 100% of pensions and other social benefits to the Donbas residents and maintain the supply of gas and electricity despite unpaid bills and send humanitarian aid.
On a regular basis we have urged other signatories to proceed to release of all hostages and illegally detained persons on the basis of “all-for-all” principle, as envisaged by the Minsk agreements, and expressed our readiness to promptly implement this commitment.
We regret to note that the current developments on the ground prove to the on-going unwillingness of Russia and its proxies from the so-called “Donetsk people’s republic” and “Luhansk people’s republic” to back up their political commitments, undertaken in Minsk, by practical action.
I would like to recall that immediately after enacting the ceasefire Russian troops and the militants launched their offensive on the city of Debaltseve, which thereby was brought to the brink of the humanitarian catastrophe.
Since then, ceasefire violations are registered on a daily basis along the entire line of contact, amounting to 63 cases per day over the period of 29 May – 14 June. Despite the commitment to withdraw the heavy weapons the pro-Russian groups broadly use multiple rocket launcher systems, tanks and larger calibre artillery to shell the positions of the Ukrainian forces and nearby residential areas, thus increase the number of casualties among Ukrainian servicemen and peaceful civilians.
The list of irrefutable evidence of Russian direct engagement in the conflict in Donbas is enlarged on a permanent basis. Among the most recent examples is detention of two Russian servicemen from the 3rd Guards Separate Spetsnaz Brigade with a permanent base in the Russian city of Tolyatti, shooting down of advanced Russian military Forpost drone, registering by the OSCE SMM of Russian Strela-10 surface-to-air system and T-72S main battle tanks.
Russia has failed so far to withdraw the military units from Ukraine’s territory, halt reinforcement of the illegal armed groups with weapons and mercenaries, proceed to release of all hostages and illegally detained persons, provide for OSCE monitoring of the border.
Several weeks ago, on 3 June the illegal armed groups, reinforced with Russian weaponry and mercenaries, attempted to advance on the village of Maryinka in the outskirts of Donetsk. The offensive on Maryinka took place after the Russian representative walked out from Trilateral Contact Group meeting in Minsk and issuance by President of Russia of a decree, classifying as state secrets information on military personnel losses in peaceful time.
Current developments on the ground, in particular intensification of the subversive and reconnaissance activities of the militants, on-going concentration of the illegal armed groups in the vicinity of the contact line, the presence of large numbers of Russian troops at the border give rise to well-grounded concerns that the tactic of local offensives, applied by Russian troops and the illegal armed groups in Debaltseve and Maryinka, can be repeated in other places. The OSCE monitors continue to face restriction on access and freedom of movement on the vast areas under the militants’ control, including the border area, which may prove to the on-going preparations.
The Russian Federation continues to take an unconstructive stance at the meetings of the Trilateral Contact Group of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE as a facilitator of the negotiation process.
Overall the developments over the last 16 months convince that the general effect of the OSCE toolbox, including its politico-military instruments, was limited. We need to admit that the OSCE was unable to serve as a deterrent to occupation and annexation of a part of territory of one participating State by another participating State, as well as direct incursion of foreign military to the territory of a participating State. The re-adjustment of the OSCE crisis toolbox in view of the current challenges must be the priority issue to be addressed.
The future of the European security will depend upon our ability to seek for ways of restoring respect to and correcting violations of the OSCE core principles and commitments, to halt aggression against an OSCE participating State and to introduce means of enforcement against aggressor.
This is the defining test for this Organization to provide a viable contribution to resolving the current security crisis on the basis of respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.
I encourage all participating States to maintain the unity of purpose to achieve this desirable outcome and not allow one participating State the Russian Federation to further remain an exporter of instability in the OSCE area.
Thank you for your attention.