As delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk to the 1119th meeting of the Permanent Council, 17 November 2016
The Delegation of Ukraine warmly welcomes the Chief Observer of the OSCE Observer Mission at two Russian checkpoints on the Russian-Ukrainian border back to the Permanent Council and thanks him for his report.
We appreciate the Mission`s professional work and regular reporting on observations at the Russian checkpoints of Gukovo and Donetsk in difficult conditions. Despite the significant restriction of the freedom of movement within the BCPs imposed by the Russian authorities, hampering, in particular, the monitoring of movements of people in military-style outfits, the Mission continues to provide evidence of Russia`s support for the illegal armed formations in Donbas. Although Russia undertook to withdraw its military, mercenaries and fighters from Donbas, their illegal flow into Ukraine continues.
We note with deep concern that every week the Observer Mission reports on high numbers of men and women in military-style clothing crossing from Russia into Ukraine and back. During the reporting period 2.083 crossings of people in military-style dress were observed, thus bringing the total to 30.383 crossings of this category since the beginning of the OM’s operation. These figures are from only two BCPs. where the Mission has the ability to monitor merely a 40 meters stretch of a 409 km Ukrainian-Russian state border segment not controlled by the Ukrainian authorities. This category of people easily crosses the border in groups of between five and 20 persons, either on foot, or in a bus/minivan, after going through border formalities performed by the Russian Federal Security Service. These flows are a source of constant manpower reinforcement of the illegal armed formations through those sections of the border, which are out of Ukraine’s control.
The OSCE Observer Mission reported yet again about forty-eight ambulances and four funerary minivans marked with “Cargo 200,” a code for Russian military casualties, crossing from Ukraine into Russia. These observations confirm abundant evidence of the fact that Russian citizen acting as foreign fighters continue to fight against Ukrainian authorities and die in a Russia-instigated conflict while the Russian Government continues to deny irrefutable evidence and its central role for stopping the violence and moving forward peaceful resolution in accordance with the Minsk agreements.
The Minsk agreements stipulate, in particular, that the humanitarian aid should be delivered to certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblast of Ukraine and distributed based on an international mechanism. However, Russia continues to resort to sending the so-called “humanitarian convoys”, without the consent of the Ukrainian authorities, flagrantly violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and failing to observe fundamental international humanitarian principles. Since 22 August 2014 the Mission observed 55 such convoys that have crossed the Donetsk BCP.
We condemn this practice in the strongest terms and insist that the Russian Federation renews respect to the fundamental norms of international law and observes the reached agreements. We again recall our proposal to the Russian Federation to send deliveries of humanitarian nature through border check-points, controlled by the Government of Ukraine. Based on information of the OSCE Observer Mission and the SMM, we also strongly condemn the violation by Russia of Ukraine`s sovereignty and territorial integrity by allowing traffic across the uncontrolled sections of the Ukrainian-Russian border of vehicles with the registration plates of so called “DPR” and “LPR”, which seized by force control of certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and perpetrate terrorist activities there.
The Delegation of Ukraine reiterates that the Minsk Protocol on implementation of the Peace plan of President P.Poroshenko and peace initiatives of President V.Putin envisages, in particular, the permanent OSCE monitoring and verification and the establishment of security zone along the Ukrainian-Russian state border in border areas of both Ukraine and the Russian Federation. In this regard we see the need for urgent implementation of the updated SMM`s Concept Paper of 6 September 2016 on Monitoring the Ukrainian-Russian State Border.
At the same time, the implementation of this part of the agreements on the Russian side of the border is still pending and does not register any progress, although the Mission`s mandate requires significant expansion. Further delay to deliver on this agreed commitment undermines de-escalation efforts and prospects of peaceful resolution to which the parties, including Russia, have committed themselves.
We reiterate our persistent call on Russia to engage constructively in ensuring the permanent monitoring and verification by the OSCE on the Ukrainian-Russian state border with creation of the security zone in border areas of Russia and Ukraine which would become a major input into the resolution efforts. We see it as an important task for the upcoming Ministerial Council meeting in Hamburg. The relevant Decision would give a much needed impetus for the prompt implementation of this important commitment.
In conclusion, we once again thank Mr. Schaller and his able team for their dedicated work and wish every success in their future activities.
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.