Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the UN Security Council briefing with participation of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany F.W. Steinmeier
(29 February 2016)
I would like to express Ukraine’s support to the priorities of the German OSCE Chairmanship in 2016. We particularly commend the determination of Germany to focus its efforts on practical response to the grave threats to security in the OSCE area. The Russian aggression against Ukraine in Crimea and Donbas remains at the top of the list.
Through no choice of ours but due to the necessity, the issue of the Russian aggression against Ukraine in Crimea and the Donbas will remain in the center of the attention of the OSCE. In this regard, Germany’s participation in the Normandy format will be of great value for the OSCE efforts on this track.
Ukraine fully shares and supports the motto of the German Chairmanship “Renewing dialogue, rebuilding trust, restoring security”. It very accurately describes the situation not only in the OSCE area, but generally in the world.
Instead of a dialogue, quite often we witness bitter mutual exchanges of accusations.
Instead of the climate of trust, an overriding sense of suspicion of each other sets the tone in the international politics these days.
Instead of feeling of security and confidence, states increasingly feel threatened in the existing environment of systematic violations of international law, including the UN Charter, and a lack of adequate international instruments for bringing perpetrators of such violations to account.
Under such circumstances, Germany’s commitment to lead the OSCE in these difficult times is highly commendable.
You have set an ambitious and noble task for the German Chairmanship. It is a high bar to clear and let me assure you of our full support for your efforts.
The UN Security Council is vested with the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Still, one can hardly miss that the deteriorating trend dominates. The growing conflict potential across the globe shapes the new security reality. It is the most problematic part of this reality that one permanent member of the Security Council has repeatedly resorted over the past decade to armed aggression against neighbouring states in Europe resulting in occupation and – which is even more alarming - attempted annexation of a part of the territory of another country – the first such attempt since the World War II.
We all confront the Russian “hybrid war” against Ukraine, marked with invention of artificial grounds for invasion, sending regular troops without insignia and the use of pervasive, virulent propaganda. As a result, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol have been illegally occupied and the Donbas plunged into a bloody conflict. Ukraine, like other European states, also has to counter regular attempts to destabilize internal situation. The corporate style of such subversive activities is recognizable by the use of similar tools, like marginal nationalist forces under pseudo-patriotic slogans, including anti-migrant ones in the EU countries, as one of the instruments.
I must state with deep concern that the situation in the Donbas remains fragile and prone to escalation, despite the significant efforts invested by Ukraine and the international community, including Minister Steinmeier’s personal contribution as a member of the Normandy ministerial framework. Ukraine’s steps towards implementation of the Minsk Agreements have not been reciprocated by Russia. Moscow still relies on pseudo-republics it has manufactured as a tool, which could be activated at any time the Kremlin considers expedient, including by triggering new phases of conflict.
For Ukraine, the Minsk Agreements continue to remain the agreed basis for the peaceful resolution in the Donbas. Since the initial documents were signed in September 2014, we have regularly initiated steps aimed at silencing the weapons in the Donbas. It is a matter of profound regret that a year after the Minsk Package of Measures was agreed, its initial security provisions have yet to be implemented by Russia and its proxies.
We are ready to fully implement the agreements and move forward on all aspects, including holding the local elections in the certain areas of the Donbas, which must be conducted in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation and the OSCE standards and thus produce legitimate regional representatives. The constitutional reform and decentralization in the country will embrace elected representatives and provide them with powers, responsibility and accountability. What is needed to move forward is a solid security ground, notably a comprehensive and sustainable ceasefire, verified withdrawal of heavy weapons, unfettered OSCE monitoring throughout the conflict area, including at the border with Russia.
As the progress on security track is long overdue, decisive steps are needed to establish the necessary security conditions for peaceful resolution in the Donbas. What is required a genuine disengagement line rather than contact line, with the weapons effectively withdrawn, militants’ armed provocations made impossible and enhanced international presence, capable to ensure security on the ground, in addition to monitoring and verification functions that the OSCE SMM currently performs. We welcome the recent extension of the SMM mandate upon Ukraine’s request. While our invitation to deploy a UN international peacekeeping operation remains on the table, enhancing the OSCE capacities on the ground and reinforcing it with a special police mission under the OSCE auspices could become an effective tool in bringing peace to the Donbas.
It is evident that the uncontrolled segment of the Ukrainian-Russian border makes the impact of all international efforts on de-escalation very limited as replenishments to the illegal armed groups with weapons and manpower from Russia continue. As an agreed initial step until Ukrainian border guards resume control at the border, permanent monitoring and verification by the OSCE along all border sections of concern from both sides of the border should be ensured, as stipulated by the Minsk Protocol of September 2014, also signed by Russia.
Release of all hostages and illegally detained persons, including Ukrainians – political prisoners in Russia, will be a crucial benchmark for assessing Russia’s readiness to embark on the de-escalation path. It is one of the few provisions of the Minsk Agreements that contains a very specific timeframe, and for apparent humanitarian reasons, i.e. within five days from the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the contact line.
These days two years ago Russia launched its aggression against Ukraine in Crimea, trampling underfoot the fundamental international norms and principles, including those enshrined in the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act. The united international response to Russia’s illegal actions was delivered here in New York on 27 March 2014, when the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution “Territorial Integrity of Ukraine”.
Being further echoed by other organizations and states across the globe, the strong international condemnation proves that the issue of the illegally occupied peninsula is firmly on the agenda whatever Russia claims. I am absolutely convinced that an international framework to address the “Crimean case” will be established sooner or later as this is the only way to guarantee the full relevance of international law. Restoring respect for the fundamental norms and principles of our peaceful co-existence and co-operation and seeking their proper implementation are in the interests of both the UN and the OSCE.
Thank you, Mr.President.