As delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk
to the 1082nd meeting of the Permanent Council,
10 December 2015
The Delegation of Ukraine warmly welcomes the Chief Observer of the OSCE Observer Mission at two Russian checkpoints on the Russian-Ukrainian border to the Permanent Council and thanks him for presenting a comprehensive report. We congratulate Mr. Simon Eugster on his appointment as Chief Observer and encourage to maintain high standards of professional work, established by his predecessor, to provide for full implementation of the OM mandate in difficult conditions.
We highly appreciate the Mission`s regular reporting on the situation at the Russian checkpoints of Gukovo and Donetsk. We are grateful to you, Mr. Eugster, and all observers of the Mission for your valuable work despite restrictive mandate. Reports of the mission are particularly useful at the time when respective checkpoints on the Ukrainian territory have been closed and are not controlled by the Ukrainian borderguards.
We note with deep concern the Mission`s information on high numbers of persons in military-style clothing crossing the border in both directions. During the reporting period 4,785 crossings of people in military-style dress were observed, while since the beginning of the OM’s operation around 25,000 crossings of this category have been reported from only two BCPs. The monitors continue to observe constant inflow of Cossacks wearing traditional Kubanka hats. The reported facts and figures as well as the ease with which these people cross the border confirm Ukraine`s fact-based assessment on Russia`s constant support of the militants and violence in the east of Ukraine. The illegal armed groups continue to receive manpower reinforcements through those sections of the border, which are now out of Ukraine’s control. The Russian Federation so far failed to pull back its military fighters and weaponry as stipulated by the Minsk agreements. Although the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation envisages criminal responsibility for mercenaries and individual citizens, going illegal armed groups on the territories of other countries, Russia effectively granted impunity to Russian citizens perpetrating violence and crimes on the Ukrainian territory and condones their illegal actions.
We reiterate that resumption of efficient control over the Ukrainian-Russian border remains crucial for sustainable de-escalation. Despite founded grave concerns about the inflow of foreign terrorist fighters and mercenaries from the Russian territory, the Russian Federation ignores persistent calls on establishing the effective border control and the OSCE monitoring to counter these threats, including by significantly expanding the mandate of the above-mentioned OSCE Border Observation Mission. The report of the UN Human Rights Mission in Ukraine, released yesterday, confirms that “there remains an inflow of ammunition, weaponry and fighters from the Russian Federation into the territories controlled by the armed groups, leaving the situation highly flammable”.
In view of extremely large numbers of Russian citizens, representing a significant Russian component of illegal armed formations operating in Ukraine’s Donbas, we request the OSCE Secretariat, in particular the Conflict Prevention Centre and the Transnational Threats Department, to promptly undertake a thorough analysis of the phenomenon of Russian fighters, which fuel the conflict in the east of Ukraine, and present recommendations on how to counter and suppress this threat through a collective effort of all participating States, including Russia.
Ukraine strictly adheres to the implementation of the Minsk agreements of 5 and 19 September 2014 and the “Package of measures” of 12 February, which stipulates, in particular, that the humanitarian aid should be delivered through an international mechanism. However, Russia continues to resort to sending the so-called “humanitarian convoys”, without the consent of the Ukrainian authorities, flagrantly violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and failing to observe fundamental international humanitarian principles. It is notable that during the reporting period 17 Russian convoys violated Ukraine`s border at the Donetsk BCP, but since 22 August 2014 the OM observed 44 such convoys. Out of this number, 41 convoys broke into Ukraine since 31 October 2014, that is when Moscow decided to support the illegal and fake so called “elections” in certain areas of Donbas in violation of the Minsk agreements.
We condemn this practice in the strongest terms and insist that the Russian Federation renews respect to the norms of international law and observes the reached agreements. We also call on Russia to exert its influence on the militants it backs, to remove all obstacles to safe delivery and distribution of humanitarian aid from the Ukrainian authorities, foreign states and international organisations.
The fragility and deterioration of the security situation in Ukraine`s Donbas due to the activities of the Russian military and Russia-backed illegal armed groups confirms that the deployment of the OSCE observers only at two Russian checkpoints does not allow to effectively address the existing grave challenges along the Ukrainian-Russian state border.
We continue to deem it as imperative to have substantial and broad OSCE monitoring of the Russian-Ukrainian border. It necessary for stabilisation and peace to strengthen the OSCE monitoring on the Russian side of the Ukrainian-Russian border, expanding the mandate of the OSCE Observation Mission in Russian border checkpoints of “Gukovo” and “Donetsk” to all sections of the border, adjacent to the areas of Donbas, not controlled by the Ukrainian authorities.
We have reached agreement with Russia in Minsk that the Ukrainian - Russian state border must have the permanent monitoring of the OSCE, including establishment of the security zones on the territories of Ukraine and the Russian Federation. In this regard we urge Russia as one of the signatories of the Minsk agreements to fully implement the undertaken commitments, to contribute to peaceful resolution and allow for the much needed significant expansion of the OSCE mission at two Russian checkpoints.
We encourage the upcoming Germany Chairmanship to conduct substantive consultations on the mandate of this mission.
In conclusion, I wish to once again thank Mr. Eugster and his team for their professional work and wish them successful accomplishment of their tasks.
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.