On May 27, 2020, an online meeting of the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation chaired by Ukraine was held to review the security threats in the Azov-Black Sea region.
"For the first time, the Ukrainian chairmanship has brought the situation in the Azov-Black Sea region to the Forum for a comprehensive discussion," - said Deputy Foreign Minister Yehor Bozhok.
Permanent Representative of the President of Ukraine for the Autonomous Republic of Crimea Anton Korynevych was a speaker from Ukraine at the event. He emphasized Russia's ongoing violations of fundamental principles and norms of the OSCE and international law. The aggressor state continues illegal occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol along with a growing militarization of the peninsula and adjacent territorial waters.
The representative of Ukraine noted that Russia hinders navigation in the Azov-Black Sea region under contrived pretexts, which is a gross violation of international maritime law. Intensive militarization of the Sea of Azov continues. Such a destructive policy of the Russian Federation has negative consequences not only for Ukraine and other countries of the Black Sea basin, but also for the wider region.
The speaker from Ukraine drew special attention to gross violations of human rights and freedoms in Crimea, illegal conscription of Ukrainian citizens into the Russian army, harassment of the Indigenous Crimean Tatar People, illegal imprisonment of Ukrainian citizens and other serious crimes of the occupying state in Crimea.
The meeting participants expressed deep concern over the deteriorating situation in the Azov-Black Sea region and beyond, marked by conflicts that seriously affect the European security order. Respect for international law, the principles of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to ensure free maritime navigation is crucial for the restoration of security and cooperation in the Black Sea region. Russia's lawless actions against Ukraine and Georgia deeply affect the security situation and cooperation in the region.
The delegates called on Russia to provide unimpeded access to the occupied Crimean peninsula for international organizations in order to obtain reliable information on the security and humanitarian situation on the peninsula. They also discussed ways to strengthen the work of the OSCE SMM to monitor the obstruction of navigation in the Sea of Azov and the economic and social consequences of such obstruction for the coastal areas of Ukraine. It is important that the Mission regularly reported on the illegal militarization of the temporarily occupied Crimean peninsula, in particular on military exercises there. The Mission's reports should also reflect the impact of such policies of the aggressor State on the environment, and health and safety of people living in the surrounding areas.
Ukraine's partners made it clear that the intensification of NATO's military activities in the Black Sea is a direct consequence of Russia's aggression against Georgia and Ukraine. They assured the Ukrainian and Georgian side of their intention to continue close cooperation.