Виголошена Постійним представником України при міжнародних організаціях у Відні І.Прокопчуком на засіданні Постійної ради ОБСЄ 4 жовтня 2016 року.
in Response to Ambassador Martin Sajdik, Special representative of the Chairperson-in-Office, and Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan,
Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine
The Delegation of Ukraine welcomes Ambassador Martin Sajdik, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Special Representative, and Ambassador Ertuğrul Apakan, Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, back to the Permanent Council and thanks them for the comprehensive updates on their work.
Ukraine consistently supports the activities of the SMM and the Trilateral Contact Group aimed at facilitating implementation of the Minsk agreements. We note their important role in advancing the recent initiatives on ceasefire and disengagement, which have created a window of opportunity after many months of violence, provoked by the combined Russian-separatist forces. This opportunity must be seized to make the process of de-escalation irreversible and we rely on the efforts of the SMM and the TCG to this end.
Much more needs to be done in this regard as armed provocations by the Russian hybrid forces, including with the use of heavy weapons, persist, although with lower intensity, in violation of the arrangements on establishing the additional measures to ensure comprehensive ceasefire since 1 September. As a result, 12 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 70 were wounded during September. The civilian population of the region also pays an ultimate price for violent actions of the Russian hybrid forces and their cynical practice of shelling from residential areas.
We note the importance of the Framework decision relating to disengagement of forces and hardware, adopted by the Trilateral Contact Group on 21 September. It is critical to work for success of this de-escalation attempt by promptly implementing the decision in three agreed areas and expanding the disengagement initiative on other areas along the contact line.
On 1 October the disengagement of forces and hardware was successfully completed in Zolote, where no military activities by the Russian hybrid forces had been observed for an agreed period of time. We hope that opening of an entry-exit checkpoint, which is blocked now by the illegal armed groups, may be a next step towards improving the humanitarian situation in this area.
Despite a registered cease-fire violation in Petrivske disengagement area, as of yesterday the agreed preconditions were in place to proceed with disengagement of forces. The Ukrainian Armed Forces were ready to start the process, however the opposite side failed to proceed in synchronized and “mirror” manner under the OSCE monitoring. Moreover, UAVs were launched from the occupied area, followed by fire.
We regret that the ceasefire violations by the Russian hybrid forces in Stanytsya Luhanska made disengagement in this area impossible so far. The Ukrainian forces, deployed near Stanytsya Luhanska, sustained targeted fire, including from anti-aircraft gun ZU-23-2, on 23-24 and 26-28 September and on 1-2 October. We also registered cases of deliberate shellings by the illegal armed groups of their positions in order to shift responsibility for undermining the disengagement on the Ukrainian forces.
We expect that the facts of targeted fire will be immediately examined by the SMM in line with the paragraph 11 of the Framework Decision, receive the Mission’s objective assessment and be brought to the attention of the “Normandy Four” and the OSCE participating States.
We regret that two attempts by the Ukrainian side to have TCG video-conference were not responded to by the other signatories.
The OSCE SMM plays a key role in verifying the necessary prerequisites for the disengagement process. As stipulated by the Framework Decision, it should be launched de after a comprehensive and sustainable ceasefire is verified by the Mission in each of the agreed areas for a 7-day period. Such verification requires permanent presence and monitoring by the SMM. The recent developments on the ground testify that the absence of the SMM monitors in a particular area often serve as a contributing factor to violation of ceasefire by the Russian hybrid forces.
We reiterate the urgent need to implement the initial security provisions of the Minsk agreements, which remains a basic requirement for stabilization and progress on all other tracks. We call on Russia to adhere to its commitments, in particular on disengagement of forces in agreed areas.
Ukraine strongly supports the SMM in accomplishing its mandate and tasks relating to monitoring the implementation of relevant provisions of the Minsk agreements. It is a matter of concern that the OSCE monitors continue to face intimidation and impediments, while working on the occupied territory of Donbas, including in the border areas.
Unfortunately, the strategy of the Russian hybrid forces aimed at “blinding” the SMM has so far succeeded. For now the monitoring capabilities of the Mission remain significantly reduced after the attacks of the Russian hybrid forces on the SMM’s long-range UAVs have deprived the SMM of this critical asset, thus affecting its reporting, in particular, on concentration of forces and weaponry, presence of Russian military equipment and other violations of the Minsk agreements. It is important that the long-range UAV capability be restored as soon as possible for credibility and objectiveness of reporting.
It is important to continue to make sure that the SMM reports are accurate, comprehensive and clear and do not provide any pretext for manipulation.
The Minsk agreements assign to the SMM a specific role in monitoring the withdrawal from Donbas of foreign troops, weaponry and fighters. This task has not yet been implemented. On the contrary, the Russian Federation continues to reinforce their forces in Donbas by maintaining the steady flow of military supplies. Over the past week the train echelons and vehicle convoys with personnel, weaponry, ammunition and fuel from Russia arrived to Donetsk, Debaltseve, Amvrosiyivka, Illovaysk and Khartzyzsk. We recall that the SMM mandate tasks the Mission to establish and report facts on violation of fundamental OSCE principles – the inflow of Russian fighters, weaponry and ammunition into the Ukrainian territory are such violations. We reiterate in this regard that there is a need for the SMM to pay priority attention to the transport routes and railway hubs in the occupied areas of Donbas, which often serve as destination points for the Russian military trains and convoys, and to include the relevant information to its reports.
We note the SMM reports on the increased number of its visits to the Ukrainian-Russian state border in the occupied areas of Donbas. However, as stated by the SMM, access to the border areas remains “critically impaired”, restricted and strictly conditioned. We deem it necessary that any impediments or obstacles should be duly and regularly reported to all participating States.
We take note of the updated Concept Paper on Monitoring the Ukrainian-Russian state border, submitted by the SMM on 6 September. The steps proposed in the document are long overdue, including establishment of additional Forward Patrol Bases and patrol hubs, installation of cameras at the border crossing points and in border areas in the occupied part of Donbas and 24/7 border monitoring. We encourage the SMM to take practical steps in this regard.
It is important that the Concept paper addresses the issue of a security zone in border areas of Ukraine and Russia with the OSCE permanent monitoring and verification to be established under the Minsk protocol of 5 September 2014. We are convinced that this agreed Minsk provision requires urgent implementation on both the territories of Ukraine and Russia.
Given that the SMM mandate covers the entire territory of Ukraine, which includes Crimea and Sevastopol, we expect the situation in the occupied peninsula to receive due attention of the SMM as a subject of regular monitoring. Since February 2014 the Russian Federation has not only deliberately and systematically violated human rights and restricted freedoms in the Ukrainian Crimea, but also completely destroyed the independent mechanisms that guarantee and protect these rights. In particular, this is manifested in the ban by Russia’s Supreme Court of the Mejlis – a representative institution which has effectively defended the rights of the indigenous people of the peninsula for decades. As the human rights violations in the occupied peninsula continue unabated it remains an urgent task to seek unfettered access of international organizations to monitor the human rights situation on the peninsula. While such access is denied, all other available instruments must be used for permanent monitoring.
We fully support the efforts of the Trilateral Contact Group, made up of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE as a facilitator, aimed at seeking practical implementation of the commitments, undertaken in Minsk. Recent arrangements on additional measures to ensure ceasefire and disengagement serve as good examples of practical contribution of the TCG to implementation of the Minsk agreements.
A comprehensive and sustainable ceasefire must therefore remain the main focus of the WSG on security issues. As the uncontrolled sections of the Ukrainian-Russian border remain a constant source of destabilization and fuelling the conflict, it is necessary to establish without delay a working sub-group on border issues and we urge Russia to refrain from blocking this initiative.
In the political area security is a crucial prerequisite for holding legitimate local elections in certain areas of Donbas according to the Ukrainian legislation and the OSCE standards. Safe environment, needed for a free expression of will of the local population in fair elections, requires de-occupation and disarmament of the illegal armed formations with its huge Russian component, in particular in the command positions.
The illegal exercise of the so-called “primaries” in the occupied part of Donbas on 2 October contravenes the Minsk agreements and undermines the peace process. We note Russia’s commitments and responsibility in this regard.
We consider unacceptable the constant impediments to the process of release of hostages and illegally detained persons. Since the beginning of the year only 14 people have been released while 111 Ukrainian citizens remain in captivity. We reiterate our call to the SMM to seek access to the hostages as the destiny and condition of many of them remains unknown. Progress in release of all hostages and illegally detained persons is crucial for assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of the TCG framework.
The economic and humanitarian situation in the occupied areas of Donbas remains a matter of deep concern. We have already raised the issue of dismantling of the industrial facilities in the occupied part of Donbas with their further transportation to the Russian Federation. Information about facilities, “evacuated” from Donbas to Russia, but in fact stolen by this country, could be found even in the Russian state-controlled media. Reports on serious crimes, committed by the members of the pro-Russian illegal armed groups against the civilians and their property, continue to regularly emerge. We encourage the SMM to follow up on these reports and duly inform the participating States.
It remains imperative to seek implementation of the Normandy agreement that all restrictions on operation of the international humanitarian organizations in the occupied part of Donbas must be lifted, which has not yet happened after many months.
The developments on the ground testify the need to continue our efforts of stimulating Russia towards implementing the undertaken commitments on peaceful resolution. Deployment of an armed police mission, including in the border areas, is necessary to contribute to establishment of safe and secure environment in Donbas. This will require the willingness of Russia to follow the path of peaceful resolution.
In conclusion, I would like to once again reiterate Ukraine’s support to the work done by Ambassador Apakan and Ambassador Sajdik. We remain hopeful that our collective efforts will help achieve de-escalation and peaceful resolution in Donbas with full respect to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
Thank you, Mr.Chairman.