Thank you for convening this meeting.
It’s been a while since the Council discussed the situation in and around Ukraine.
The situation is fluid and dangerous.
It has changed in details – but not in basics.
The Russian aggression reached new point – but hasn’t stopped.
Crimea is under occupation. Donbas is under attack.
Minsk-2 looks like a jigsaw puzzle that hasn’t been put together – yet.
It’s time that we look at things a bit closer.
I thank my dear friend Minister Linas Linkevičius of Lithuania for helping convene this meeting.
I also thank our briefers – Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, Assistant Secretary-General Ivan Šimonović and OSCE SMM Chief Monitor Ertugugrul Apakan – for their informative contribution to this session.
Almost 300 days have passed since adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 2202 (2015) by which the Council unanimously endorsed the Minsk Agreements.
Months have passed. Thousands of people have died.
Why isn’t Minsk implemented yet? Why isn’t peace reached?
Reaching peace is a matter of motivation.
You can only have peace, if you want peace.
Ukraine does – because peace is our chance at survival.
Is Russia motivated enough? That’s an open question.
Right after the Minsk-2 accord, we expected the ceasefire to be implemented.
We expected withdrawal of weapons and troops within days and weeks.
We expected the final political solution by the end of 2015.
That was the expectation when the sides of the Minsk accord were signing it.
However – the ink of the Russian signature wasn’t dry yet – when the Russian regular army, along with terrorists, launched a full-scale military attack on Debaltseve.
The Ukrainian army suffered painful losses.
Moscow showed that it would stick to the Minsk accord only once it drew enough of Ukraine’s blood.
Seems, they are still contemplating – was it enough or should they go on?
Debaltseve was a tour de force, a little preview of how they would “implement” it.
The same pattern we see till now: the patter of sabotage, blockade and lies.
What did Ukraine do, while Russia was messing with our minds and souls?
The Ukrainian forces ceased fire and withdrew weapons.
The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission got full access to all areas under control by the Government of Ukraine.
Despite endless provocations and shelling by Russia-supported terrorists, Ukraine in cooperation with the OSCE and the international community undertakes every effort to implement its commitments to avert the humanitarian crisis:
- Ukraine is paying social benefits to the residents of occupied Donbas;
- Ukraine is supplying gas, electricity and water without any reimbursements;
- Ukraine is establishing logistic-humanitarian centers and carrying out projects on infrastructure reconstruction.
After the inclusive national dialogue, including with representatives of the Donbas region, the Ukrainian Parliament has adopted in the first reading amendments to the Constitution on decentralization, stipulating the special order of local self-government in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Ukraine has presented in the TCG a concept on modalities of holding local elections in Donbas.
Ukraine has been providing comprehensive support and cooperation to the OSCE in implementing its mandate throughout the entire territory of Ukraine.
Now, let’s look on the other side.
What has the Russian Federation done as a side to the Minsk agreements? Nothing.
Instead, Russia and Russia-backed illegal armed formations:
have not abandoned provocations and massive assaults, thus rendering the ceasefire fragile;
keep holding and maneuvering heavy and lighter weapons in the forbidden areas;
block access of the SMM to the areas under their control and jam technical means of the Mission;
block release of captives;
hinder activities of the international humanitarian organizations in the region;
reject holding local elections in Donbas in accordance with Ukrainian legislation and international standards and impede involvement of ODIHR/OSCE;
Russia keeps rotation and reinforcement of military contingent in the occupied Donbas.
Now, you will probably hear from the Russian representative that Russia isn’t a side to the conflict.
He would probably say it’s a purely domestic conflict and all Russian military there are simply on vacation.
He can also claim that Elvis is alive. But no amount of lies will change the facts.
It’s not Ukrainians fighting against Russia, but the other way around.
It’s not Ukraine sending weapons to Russia, but the other way around.
It’s not Ukraine annexing Russian land, but the other way around.
And in the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if the scumbags who kill your people are “on vacation” or not.
Since Minsk-2 was signed, Ukrainian forces and civilian locations were shelled or attacked over 13,500 times.
Russian forces and militants carried out multiple massive offensives on Debaltseve on February 15, Maryinka and Shchastya on June 3, Starohnativka on June 10, and Shyrokyne on many occasions.
There was time recently when the death toll stopped rising.
It’s over now. Things are deteriorating again. The trend is bad.
The only chance to prevent things from backsliding into full-blown war is Minsk-2.
It may not be perfect, but it’s the only way to end the conflict.
Ukraine is fully committed to it. It’s our bridge into future. We won’t burn it.
What would Russia do is a big question.
Russian population seems to be excited about every new war.
President Putin’s popularity rose by 10% since the war on Ukraine started.
That’s approximately a 1% bump for every thousand dead Ukrainians.
Why should be Russia motivated to stop it?
Things won’t change until Russia changes its attitude.
It must stick to the Security Council Resolution.
It must implement all core elements of sustainable de-escalation:
cease armed provocations against Ukrainian forces in Donbas;
provide full access to the OSCE missions to the state border between Russia and Ukraine to verifiably stop supporting militants in Donbas with weapons and personnel;
withdraw its troops and weaponry from the territory of Ukraine;
start practical discussions on modalities of reinstatement of full control of the border by Ukraine.
If any of these indispensable elements of de-escalation is sabotaged – the outcome would be fragmented and unstable, as we see it today.
To secure sustainable de-escalation, coherent international action is necessary.
Back in March Ukraine formally requested UN to deploy peacekeeping mission in order to support the implementation of Minsk agreements.
This mission would be essential in implementing such provisions of Minsk as disarmament of the Illegal armed formations; monitoring and verification of the Russian troops and weapons withdrawal; delivering and distributing humanitarian assistance; securing environment for local elections according to OSCE standards; implementing amnesty.
I urge the Security Council, time and again, to assume leadership in establishing such a mission.
Against the background of the recent awful terrorist attacks we should not forget about innocent victims of the MH-17 crash. One year after this incident a group of like-minded states seeking justice for victims and their families initiated a creation of international mechanism that would have the highest international legitimacy, effectiveness and transparency to bring those responsible to account.
Not surprisingly only one state blocked adoption of the resolution.
Russian veto did not discourage us.
Quite opposite: the MH17 voting was the moment of truth.
And truth is what we want.
Ukraine works closely with Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and other Grieving Nations to identify another credible and effective mechanism to deliver justice.
Ukraine believes the Security Council should remain actively seized of this matter.
When situation is right, this Council has to send a clear message that it would not tolerate any infringements into safety of civil aviation and to deliver justice – first and foremost for those who lost their daughters, sons, grandfathers and grandmothers, spouses in this terrible disaster.
In violation of the General Assembly Resolution 68/262, the Ukrainian Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol remain occupied by the Russian Federation. It continues to pursue the policy of oppressions against the local population, in particular, Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians. I recall that under international law Russia bears responsibilities as an occupying authority. We call on Russia to immediately put a halt to human rights violations and allow free and unconditional access of international human rights monitors to Crimea.
Every war is a perversion – in the face of nature, God and humanity.
But history hasn’t seen a war more perverted than this one.
It’s a war between people who often speak the same language, read the same books and listen to the same music.
Their grandfathers fought side by side in the WWII.
They got along pretty well – until propaganda convinced Russians that Ukraine is ruled by “the Nazis”.
It’s a war that officially doesn’t exist – against an enemy that never existed.
It’s a war that makes Russia feel strong – but in reality makes it weak.
It’s a war of the past – against the future.
Let’s stop this madness. Let’s use the chance of Minsk before it slips away.
Once one said: “A mistake repeated is not a mistake, but a decision”.
More than 9 thousand people have died because of Russia’s decisions from 2014.
Maybe it’s time for new decisions and new attitude?
Ukraine doesn’t want to impose anything on other nations.
But she won’t sacrifice her freedom for anything in the world.
All we want is peace and quiet – to decide our own destiny.
And once the aggression is over – we will.
Those who came to conduct this war – must go.
Those who killed these 9 thousands – must be punished.
Those who were simply fooled by propaganda – must be forgiven.
And those who thought they would break Ukraine’s will – must realize: they failed.
I thank you!