Almost seven years ago, the Russian Federation launched an undeclared war against Ukraine. Having committed an illegal occupation and attempted annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, the Kremlin moved on to the next stage of its armed aggression in the Ukrainian Donbas.
Russian special operations units and other armed formations, service members "on a leave", military advisors - without any insignia – methodically, purposely and in an organized way seized local administrations, police departments, Ukrainian military facilities in Donbas, and carried out other operations with the use of force against the Ukrainian army and law enforcement.
Continuous artillery and missile attacks against the positions of the Ukrainian border guards and Armed Forces were carried out from Russia’s territory. Russian military units, while using heavy weaponry and military equipment, carried out an armed invasion and took a direct part in hostilities on the territory of Ukraine. Many Russian service members were captured in the course of the hostilities.
Russia’s military presence in the occupied part of Donbas continues to this day.
Illegal crossing of the parts of the Ukrainian-Russian state border, which are currently not under the control of Ukraine’s government, by trains, truck convoys, and military vehicles with the aim of supplying and rotating Russia’s armed formations in Donbas has become a routine. The information on regular violations of Ukraine's state border is reflected in numerous OSCE reports.
These facts have been well recorded, confirmed, and are beyond doubt. Documentary and other evidence of Russia’s role as a direct participant in the armed conflict against Ukraine has already been and will continue to be submitted by Ukraine to international legal institutions.
Thus, Russian officials’ persistent claims alleging the “mediation” role of Russia in the peace process in Donbas are outrageous. Since the first day of the armed conflict, Russia has not been and cannot in principle be a mediator in the conflict it had begun and continues to take part in.
The implementation of the OSCE-, Germany-, and France-mediated Minsk Agreements and the agreements within the “Normandie Format”, continues to be a prerequisite of the politico-diplomatic settlement of the conflict. Yet, since the very beginning, Russia has deliberately been sabotaging them. It is worth recalling the seizure of Debaltseve and other Ukrainian territories six years ago - within days of Russia signing the Minsk Package of Measures on 12 February 2015, and the ceasefire along the line of contact.
All Russia’s further actions to date have been aimed at dismantling any and all efforts to end the conflict and peacefully reintegrate the occupied Ukrainian territories.
In the last one and a half years, the Ukrainian side has made unprecedented steps to find ways to achieve a peaceful settlement of the conflict, bold efforts have been invested in the implementation of the agreements reached by the “Normandie Format” Leaders on 9 December 2019 in Paris. To this end, we have put forward numerous proposals and initiatives, in particular within the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group, for the implementation of decisions on humanitarian, security, and political tracks.
Despite all our efforts, the work of the Trilateral Contact Group is being blocked under various pretexts, and the Russian side refuses to finalize even expert-level decisions. Among them are important initiatives on further disengagement of forces and equipment, the continuation of demining, implementation of the political aspects of the Common Agreed Conclusions of the Paris Summit, opening and ensuring proper operation of new line of contact checkpoints, further stages of the process of mutual release of detainees and exchange of respective lists.
An important achievement of the last months – the agreement reached on 22 July 2020 regarding additional measures to strengthen the ceasefire – has been tested by numerous challenges, while the number of provocations by the armed formations of the Russian Federation along the line of contact, including with the use of Minsk-proscribed weapons, has increased.
Since the beginning of this year, the Russian armed formations have increasingly resorted to sniper fire on our positions, which has led to new human losses.
International organizations, first of all, the International Committee of the Red Cross, until now do not have full and unconditional access to the affected population and detained persons in the occupied territories, and OSCE SMM patrols are further facing numerous obstacles in ensuring safe and secure access, including to the non-government-controlled segment of the state border.
Ukraine remains committed to a peaceful, politico-diplomatic settlement of the Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict based on the principles, laid down in the Minsk agreements, including the Minsk Protocol of 5 September 2014, the Minsk Memorandum of 19 September 2014, and the Minsk Package of Measures of 12 February 2015. We are ready to continue working on their implementation both in the Trilateral Contact Group and in the “Normandie Format”.
Ukraine is grateful to and highly appreciates the mediation efforts of the OSCE, as well as our partners Germany and France, in seeking solutions, which could finally bring peace to the Ukrainian soil.
The Kremlin must stop deceiving the entire civilized world by its ungrounded statements that Russia, allegedly, is not a party to the conflict. Russia`s direct role and participation in the ongoing conflict in the east of Ukraine has been documented and is well-known to the international community.
Russia must accept its responsibility for unleashing armed aggression against Ukraine and make all efforts to settle the conflict.
We call on Russia to fully implement its obligations, withdraw from Ukraine its weapons, army, mercenaries, and the armed formations it leads, supports and finances, and return to Ukraine full control over its internationally recognized borders.