Ministry of Foreign Affairs Daily Briefing
Despite repeated protests from the Ukrainian side, Russia continues to invade Ukraine with "contraband convoys", which grossly violates International and Ukrainian Law. Another such "contraband convoy" entered Ukraine on March 26.
The Ukrainian side did not grant an official approval to ship this, as claimed by Russia, "humanitarian cargo" due to the violation of the law of our country, established international practice, as well as the conditions and modalities previously agreed between Ukraine, Russia and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The Russian side once again completely ignored the need for cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross. In addition, non-humanitarian cargo was shipped to our country, including large volumes of seeds, fuel, and lubricants.
The lack of legitimate grounds made impossible proper processing of the shipment at Russian checkpoints by Ukraine's border and customs authorities, which is mandatory under Ukrainian law.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has delivered another diplomatic demarche demanding that the Russian side immediately stop violating the sovereignty of Ukraine under the pretext of delivering so-called "humanitarian aid".
In view of the note received from the Russian side on March 30 regarding the intention to deliver another shipment of so-called "humanitarian aid" to Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts of Ukraine on April 2, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has officially demanded for Russia to refrain from this step.
We once again urge the Russian side to send only properly completed and duly executed humanitarian shipments, exclusively through checkpoints controlled by the respective authorities of Ukraine located in Luhansk and Kharkiv oblasts.
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While denying its involvement in supporting terrorist groups in Donbas, Russia and its regular armed forces continue to take an active part in the military actions in Ukraine, carrying out air reconnaissance and enhancing its military presence along our country’s border.
In particular, artillery systems with a caliber of over 100 mm and multiple rocket launcher systems that have to be withdrawn from the demarcation line at distances envisaged by the Package of Measures in execution of Minsk agreements of February 12, are still in use. The shelling of Novotoshkivske (Luhansk region) from multiple rocket launcher systems by the militants on March 12 has been confirmed by the OSCE.
A telling example of breaching Minsk agreements is the brutal blocking by the militants of international surveillance of the ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy armaments. Particularly, on March 27 at a checkpoint near Shyrokyne (Mariupol area) the militants halted a patrol of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine and turned it around using life threats. The next day at the same checkpoint the militants once again threatened OSCE observers with weapons and forced them to leave the Shyrokyno area.
We consider the intention of illegal armed groups in the Donetsk region to hold joint firing practice with the Russian armed forces on March 25-April 4, with the use of large caliber self-propelled artillery weapons, howitzers and antitank grenades to be in breach of Minsk agreements. According to the said agreements, these armaments must be withdrawn from the demarcation line.
Air reconnaissance by Russian armed forces’ UAVs continues in different directions, including along the border between the Kherson region and the occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea, as well as along the Russia-Ukraine state border in the Luhansk region. We also continue to observe accumulation of Russian military equipment and personnel in cross-border regions.
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Today, world's only Crimean Tatar TV channel, ATR stopped broadcasting in Crimea. Despite the protests by Crimean Tatars, journalists, and civil society activists in Crimea and worldwide, Russia's infamous Federal Supervision Agency for Information Technologies and Communications (Roskomnadzor) denied the channel's application for re-registration.
Other media outlets like children's TV channel "Lyalye", radio "Meydan", print publications "Avdet" and "Kyrym", and news agency QHA were forced to stop their activities for similar reasons.
However, everyone understands that this is neither about some violations or Roskomnadzor. It is absolutely clear that these steps were taken with the knowledge and under orders from the Kremlin. Through these actions, the Russian occupation authorities completely deprived the Crimean Tatars - indigenous people of the Crimea - of their right to freely use their native language, to receive and distribute accurate information, to preserve their national identity, and to educate their children in the spirit of national traditions.
These actions are part of Russia's cynical and apparently well-thought out strategy of gradual erosion of the Crimean Tatar (and, in fact, Ukrainian) presence in the cultural, informational, and political space on the occupied peninsula.
The ATR channel has always been known for high standards of journalism - which evidently interfere with implementation of the Kremlin's plan to completely strip Crimea of freedom of thought and expression and to turn this world-famous tourist gem into a military base armed with nuclear missiles.
Naturally, this is the revenge of the Russian regime against the Crimean Tatars for their fundamental rejection of the unlawful occupation of the peninsula by Russian Federation and the new regime's efforts to establish savage and blatantly criminal rule on the territory of the Crimea.
Russian authorities' policy in Crimea clearly demonstrate its rapid return to the worst imperialist practices of the nineteenth century, such as persecution for personal beliefs, forced Russification, and destruction of national languages and cultures.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine strongly condemns the actions of the Russian occupation authorities, which blatantly contradict Russia's international obligations. We call on foreign governments and international organizations to take immediate measures to influence the Russian Federation in order to prevent cultural genocide of the indigenous population of the peninsula as well as the destruction of ethno-cultural diversity and historical identity of the Crimea.
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March 27, 2015 marked a year since UN General Assembly, with the overwhelming majority of Member States’ votes, adopted Resolution #68/262 “Territorial Integrity of Ukraine”. One hundred delegations voted in favor of the resolution, while 11 (including Russian Federation) voted against. Over 50 states from across the globe co-authored the document.
The Resolution had become a reaction of the civilized world to the military occupation of the Crimea by Russia and the farce Russia staged by holding a pseudo-referendum on the Crimean peninsula on March 16, 2014. By means of this Resolution, the world reinforced territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. All states have been called to abstain from actions aimed at partial or full breach of Ukraine’s national unity, including any attempts to change our country’s borders by force or by threat of force. Acknowledging the lack of legal or any other grounds to exploit the above said “referendum” to justify the annexation of Crimea, UN General Assembly called on all states, international organizations and specialized institutions not to recognize any changes in the status of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol based on its results as well as abstain from any actions or steps that can be construed as such recognition.
The said Resolution has become an important political and legal document that reinforced invariability of Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and helped prevent international acknowledgment of the illegal referendum and Russia’s annexation of the Crimea. Despite its recommendatory nature, this decision has become an important political and legal road sign for UN Member States.
For the UN as an independent actor on the international arena, the provisions of the General Assembly’s Resolution “Territorial Integrity of Ukraine” are mandatory provisions of direct effect. In particular, due to this Resolution, the Crimea is still marked as a part of Ukrainian territory in all the UN documents and maps used in the UN framework, including the Security Council, General Assembly and the Economic and Social Committee; visits of UN representatives to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea shall be held in view of the peninsula’s status as a part of Ukraine.
The binding nature of Resolution #68/262 for the UN Secretariat, its organizations, institutions and agencies has been publicly emphasized on multiple occasions by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. This decision of the General Assembly also serves as an important landmark for other international organizations, primarily those working or otherwise related to the largest universal organization.
The all-encompassing call of the General Assembly’s Resolution “Territorial Integrity of Ukraine” to renounce and abstain from any actions aimed at partial or full breach of our country’s national unity, including any attempts to change Ukraine’s borders by force or by threat of force unfortunately remains of vital importance today in view of the lasting subversive activity in Ukraine’s Donbas region by Russia and the terrorist groups it is sponsoring (the so called Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics).
The support for the Russian Federation in the UN General Assembly a year ago by only 10 out of 193 UN Member States remains among the most telling symbols of Russia’s deep international isolation.
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