I take this opportunity to congratulate you with the assuming of the Presidency of the Council for the month of June.
It is of high importance that the Security Council is having meeting on the current situation in and around Ukraine.
I would like to express my gratitude to our briefers for their important messages on the current situation on the ground and the measures taken by the OSCE to monitor the implementation of the Minsk agreements.
I would like to start by drawing your attention to grave violations by the Russian Federation and Russia-backed terrorists of the ceasefire supported by the UN Security Council Resolution 2202 (2015).
On June 3, the militants, with direct backing of the Russian regular armed forces, carried out a massive targeted assault on Ukrainian forces around Maryinka and an attack near Schastya. 1,000 persons, including Russian regular military cadre, and 30 tanks were engaged into the assault near Maryinka. Ukrainian forces were shelled 82 times, including 11 times with MLRS Grad. Artillery fire was coordinated professionally. This attests presence of Russian regular artillery crews.
These attacks were intended to test defense and response capabilities of the Ukrainian forces and to seize control of the territory and vital socio-economic infrastructure (Karlovske water reservoir, Kurakhove and Schastya power stations, and Volnovakha railway hub). If the attackers had captured Maryinka, this would have allowed them to grab positions for imposing economic blockade of Mariupol, surrounding Ukrainian forces in Avdiyivka and near Donetsk airport and thus carrying out a larger offensive along the frontline.
The Ukrainian ATO forces fought off these assaults. However, five servicemen were killed in action (4 of them in Maryinka) and 38 wounded. Moreover, three civilians were reported dead.
Meanwhile, after the failure of the assault of June 03, Russia-backed terrorists continued attacks overnight. On Mariupol direction, the terrorists shelled Shyrokyne with artillery, mortars, grenade launchers, and small arms. In Luhansk direction, the militants attacked Donetske, Novotoshkivske, Stanytsya Luhanska, and Krymske. In Artemivsk direction, the terrorists shelled Zolote with grenade launchers, Leninske with small arms. In Donetsk direction, the terrorists attacked Pisky with mortars, Novotroitske with grenade launchers.
Russia and its proxies in Donbas have repeatedly violated the Minsk agreements of September 5 and 19, 2015 as well as of February 12, 2015. The assault near Maryinka became the second large-scale assault after the February flagrant assault on Debaltseve.
It occurred immediately after Russia’s attempt to disrupt the meeting of the Trilateral Contact Group and its thematic subgroups in Minsk on June 02, 2015.
We are sure that the massive targeted assault around Maryinka was planned in advance by the Russian Federation, and the conclusions of the SMM OSCE prove this. In particular, I quote:
“Between 22:30hrs on 2 June and 05:30hrs on 3 June the SMM observed the movement of a large amount of heavy weapons in so called “Donetsk People’s Republic” – controlled areas – in a westerly direction towards the contact line – close to Maryinka, preceding and during the fighting”.
The SMM observed, inter alia, tracked armoured vehicles, including battle tanks, 122mm artillery pieces, military trucks with ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft gun etc.
It is notable that the SMM made several attempts to contact the so-called “high-ranking” “DNR” “leaders” – in order to facilitate a cessation to the fighting around Maryinka, but without any success – those so-called “leaders” did not respond to the SMM.
Ukraine has consistently fulfilled the Minsk agreements in full and in good faith and tried to use all possible diplomatic leverage to deter escalation.
Due to effective defensive efforts of the Ukrainian Army, Ukraine avoided new wave of conflict escalation in Donbas as well as discouraged Kremlin’s attempts to disrupt the provisions of the UN Security Council Resolution 2202 (2015) as well as the Minsk Agreements by accusing the Ukrainian side.
I would like to underscore that we promptly informed the OSCE SMM that Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons would be returned to the contact line in order to deal with the “real threat” posed by the fighting in Maryinka and to defend civilians living in the local areas.
The recent provocative steps by the Russian side clearly indicate Russia’s intentions to escalate the confrontation and disrupt the Minsk process.
The recent assaults are an attempt of the Russian side to exert military pressure on international players on the eve of important international events.
The task of this Council is to prevent the aggressor from its further destructive actions in this direction. We have to use all possible political and diplomatic leverage in this regard.
It is not only the OSCE SMM that continuously witnesses the deterioration of the situation on the ground.
A few days ago the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published the tenth report on the situation of human rights in Ukraine. It is important that the report clearly highlights the responsibility of the Russian Federation for the deterioration of the situation in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
In particular, it proves the supply of the modern types of heavy weaponry and mercenaries by the Russian Federation and widely confirms crimes and human rights violations committed by militants supported by Russia.
The difficult situation of human rights in the temporarily occupied Crimea is also reflected in the document. The Office notes that the so-called “Crimean authorities” continue to restrict rights of ethnic Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar People.
Let me go back from what I have started. Taking into account the serious violations of UN Security Council Resolution 2202 (2015) by Russia I kindly request the UN Security Council members to promptly react to those provocations and violations and make every effort to promote a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
The international community previously stated that an assault on Mariupol would be a red line and, should Russia cross it, this would trigger an immediate and resolute response.
After what happened on June 03, 2015 the same approach should apply to the Maryinka case.
At the same time we urge the Russian Federation and its proxies to start immediately fulfilling their obligations under the provisions of the Minsk Agreements as well as the UN Security Council Resolution 2202 (2015).
We demand to withdraw Russian armed forces from Ukraine, stop reinforcing the terrorist organizations with personnel and weapons, cease its destabilizing and provocative actions in Ukraine, and release all hostages.
Russia must also end its occupation of Crimea, which remains an integral part of Ukraine.