The NATO-Ukraine Commission (NUC) met in Kyiv today in the presence of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and members of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to discuss the security situation in and around Ukraine, the reform process within the country, as well as progress in the NATO-Ukraine partnership. Our meeting took place as part of the visit of the North Atlantic Council to Ukraine. The North Atlantic Council also met with members of the Verkhovna Rada as well as civil society. This visit is a strong demonstration of NATO’s unwavering support to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.
Today we discussed the security situation in eastern Ukraine, which continues to be of major concern. Allies commended President Zelenskyy on his commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. We reaffirmed our support to the settlement of the conflict by diplomatic means in accordance with the Minsk Agreements, which need to be fully implemented by all parties; Russia, as a signatory to the Minsk Agreements bears significant responsibility in this regard. We support the efforts of the Normandy format, the Trilateral Contact Group and the OSCE. We urge Russia to cease all political, financial and military support to militant groups and to stop intervening militarily in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and to withdraw troops, equipment, and mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine, and to return to the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination. We stress the importance of the safety and full and unhindered access for the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, up to and including the Russia-Ukraine border.
We welcome the disengagement of forces around Stanytsia Luhanska and support efforts to implement disengagement in other designated areas, as part of an effort to fully implement the Minsk Agreements. Allies welcome Ukraine’s continuous commitment to the JIT investigation into the downing of flight MH17. It remains important to establish truth, accountability and justice for the downing of flight MH17, in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2166.
We strongly condemn and will not recognise Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea. Crimea is the territory of Ukraine. We call on Russia to return control of Crimea to Ukraine.We condemn Russia’s ongoing and wide-ranging military build-up in Crimea, which is part of the larger pattern of Russian aggressive actions in the region.Allies are deeply concerned by the human rights abuses and violations being carried out by the Russian de-facto authorities in Crimea against all Ukrainians, includingthe Crimean Tatars, and members of other local communities. We call on Russia to grant international monitoring organisations access to Crimea.NATO’s response to address Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine has been alongside and in support of an overall international effort, which has included sanctions. There can be no “business as usual” until there is a clear, constructive change in Russia’s actions that demonstrates compliance with international law and its international obligations and responsibilities.
We welcome the fact that, as part of a simultaneous release of prisoners agreed by Ukraine and Russia, the 24 Ukrainian servicemen and 11 other Ukrainian prisoners detained by Russia were able to return home last month. This is a step in the right direction. We call on Russia to return the captured vessels and to comply with its international commitments by ensuring unhindered access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov and allowing freedom of navigation. In line with UNGA Resolution 73/263 of 22 December 2018, we call on Russia to immediately release and allow the return to Ukraine, without preconditions, of Ukrainian citizens who were unlawfully detained and judged without regard for the requirement of international law, as well as those transferred or deported across internationally recognized borders from Crimea to the Russian Federation.
Allies commended Ukraine for successfully conducting peaceful and competitive elections in 2019 which reflect the will of the Ukrainian people. Ukrainian voters provided the new government and Parliament a further opportunity to continue the wide-ranging reforms, which should be fully in line with Ukraine’s international obligations and commitments. The success of these reforms, including combatting corruption, will be crucial in laying the groundwork for a prosperous and peaceful Ukraine firmly anchored among European democracies committed to common values, respect for human rights, minorities and the rule of law. In this regard, Allies encourage Ukraine to make the best use of the tools available under the NATO-Ukraine Commission, in particular the Annual National Programme to reach its objective of implementing NATO principles and standards. With regard to the Law on Education adopted by the Verkhovna Rada in September 2017, Allies urge Ukraine to fully implement the recommendations and conclusions of the Venice Commission. Ukraine is committed to doing so.
Allies welcome achievements already made and look forward to further progress with the reform of Ukraine’s security and defence sector, including the implementation of the 2018 Law on National Security. Its provisions on civilian control and democratic oversight over the security and defence sector are a key Euro-Atlantic norm. Allies called on Ukraine to adopt and implement secondary legislation stemming from the Law on National Security, including on the Security Service of Ukraine, on a new parliamentary oversight committee, intelligence, state secrets and defence procurement. Allies remain committed to providing continued support to Ukraine’s reform agenda in the security and defence sector, including through the Comprehensive Assistance Package (CAP), so that it can better provide for its own security. Today, we endorsed the third Review of the CAP, further aligning it to reform goals aimed at implementing Euro-Atlantic principles, best practices and standards and to enhance interoperability with NATO. In this regard, Allied contributions to NATO Trust Funds play an important role.
The Black Sea region is of strategic importance to the Alliance and its partners. Allies welcome the developing dialogue and cooperation between NATO and Ukraine on security in the Black Sea region. In line with the April 2019 decision of the NATO Foreign Ministers, Allies have enhanced their practical support to Ukraine, including cooperation with its Navy, situational awareness, port visits, exercises and sharing of information. Yesterday, we met with NATO Standing Naval Forces conducting a port visit to Odesa and with members of Ukraine’s Military and Maritime Academies, two institutions that benefit from NATO’s support. Allies will continue to support Ukraine’s efforts to strengthen its resilience against hybrid threats, including through intensifying activities under the NATO-Ukraine Platform on Countering Hybrid Warfare.
Allies highly value Ukraine’s significant contributions to Allied operations, the NATO Response Force, and NATO exercises. We welcome these efforts, which demonstrate Ukraine’s commitment and capability to contribute to Euro-Atlantic security. Those contributions also increase our interoperability. Allies acknowledge Ukraine’s interest in the enhanced opportunities within the Partnership Interoperability Initiative and will consider this in view of the decisions taken at the Wales, Warsaw and Brussels Summits.
In light of Ukraine’s restated aspirations for NATO membership, we stand by our decisions taken at the Bucharest Summit and subsequent Summits. We will work together to enhance and adapt our distinctive partnership under the NATO-Ukraine Commission, which will contribute to building a stable, peaceful and undivided Europe. An independent, sovereign and stable Ukraine, firmly committed to democracy, and the rule of law, is key for Euro-Atlantic security.
Allies expressed their appreciation for the warm hospitality by Ukraine during the visit.