Statement by Permanent Representative of Russia to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich at the OSCE Permanent Council meeting on Ukraine and the need to implement the Minsk Agreements, Vienna, May 10, 2018

Thursday, 10 May 2018 12:31
Category: Foreign Policy News
Written by Vladimir I Poluektov
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Mr Chairperson,

The “operation of the united forces” of the government and nationalist groups in Ukraine continues to bring new victims and destruction to Donbass. Kiev is continuing this course of sabotaging the Minsk Package of Measures starting with its first clause.

On May 3, the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) recorded over 1,200 explosions on the contact line. Donetsk residents told the observers that the shelling of the city had been ongoing for seven days. The ceasefire is not being observed in the area of the Donetsk Filtration Station and in all three sections of the disengagement of forces.

The SMM’s reports confirm that the Ukrainian Armed Forces are behind most of ceasefire violations. They do not spare anyone. They shot at a family with a child near the self-defence forces’ checkpoint in Yelenovka, and one person was wounded.

Due to shelling by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, two civilians were killed in Dokuchayevsk on April 26 – Anatoly Portnenko and Galina Portnenko; two buildings were burned and five were destroyed by direct artillery hits and two houses were partially damaged in Zaitsevo on April 25-26; a residential building was damaged in Sakhanka on April 24; a house was burned in Trudovskiye on April 23; a missile was fired at a truck carrying grain in Dokuchayevsk on April 23; a civilian, Anatoly Maskalets, was killed in Zaitsevo; a civilian was wounded in Dokuchayevsk on April 22;  a house was partially destroyed and a power line was damaged in Kominternovo on April 18.  

We remind the SMM that they should not worry about pressure from the receiving side. Information on the shelling of residential areas on both sides of the contact line should be promptly verified and included in reports. It is unacceptable to ignore the appeals from Donetsk and Lugansk representatives in such a situation. This contradicts the requirement of objective and impartial work by the observers.

The behaviour of the Ukrainian negotiators at the May 4 meeting of the Contact Group in Minsk was another indication that Kiev is not interested in a de-escalation of tensions. The Ukrainian side declined a proposal to agree on additional measures to enforce the ceasefire. A demand to offer written safety guarantees to the employees of the Donetsk Filtration Station was ignored. The Ukrainian Armed Forces would not issue orders on maintaining the ceasefire in that area. Everything suggests that Kiev is set for the armed seizure of the Donetsk Filtration Station. We call on the SMM to closely monitor the situation, and identify the perpetrators of the ceasefire violations. It is time to put an end to the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ lawlessness and bring to account those who fired at the bus carrying Donetsk Filtration Station employees on April 17.   

Kiev is undermining the implementation of the Contact Group’s Framework Agreement on the disengagement of forces and equipment of September 21, 2016 – an agreement capable of relieving the tensions. The Ukrainian Armed Forces occupied disengagement areas in Zolotoye and Petrovskoye and are concentrating military hardware there. According to the SMM, there are Ukrainian Armed Forces’ bunkers, trenches, personnel and military hardware in Zolotoye. In Petrovskoye, the SMM discovered five military sites equipped with heavy machine guns and four shelters for mortar crews as well as over 100 antitank mines. On May 8, Kiev once again derailed the disengagement of forces in Stanitsa Luganskaya. The SMM has reported a number of times on the self-defence forces’ readiness to withdraw and the observance of the seven-day total ceasefire needed to start the disengagement.

There is an increasing concentration of Ukrainian military hardware at the contact line. Throughout the week of April 30 to May 7, in violation of Clause 2 of the Minsk Package of Measures, 55 pieces of equipment belonging to the Ukrainian Armed Forces were recorded, including multiple launch rocket systems in Konstantinovka, Topolinoye and Khlebodarovka, howitzers in Artyomovsk, Kremenevka and Konstantinovka.

Kiev’s revanchist rhetoric is being encouraged from abroad. On April 30, President Petr Poroshenko confirmed the delivery of Javelin anti-tank missile systems from the United States. Practical training of the crews to use them, according to Ukraine’s Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak, was to start on May 2.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces continue to hamper the Special Monitoring Mission’s drone operations. The Mission has confirmed that, on April 30, Ukrainian military fired at their drone in the vicinity of Katerinovka. The Mission’s drones continue to be jammed above areas controlled by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, including over Bogdanovka on May 1 and in Lomakino on May 3.

The political settlement process has become deadlocked. Kiev representatives are blocking the work of the Contact Group’s political subgroup. During the May 4 meeting in Minsk, the Ukrainian side once again refused to confirm the procedure for enacting the law on the special status under the Steinmeier formula, which links this process with local elections.

The law on the reintegration of Donbass has legalised the prosecution of persons connected with the developments in Donbass. During the latest meeting of the Contact Group, negotiators from Kiev once again dragged out the coordination of the process for exchanging detainees under the all-for-all principle.

The coordination of measures to resolve humanitarian issues in Donbass is being stalled. Kiev is hampering efforts to coordinate the procedure to repair a bridge in Stanitsa Luganskaya and is evading a comprehensive resolution as regards the opening of new checkpoints along the line of contact. Security forces are massing combat equipment in the vicinity of Zolotoye, and this is hampering the opening of this checkpoint contrary to the calls that have been voiced here.

We would like to thank members of the Special Monitoring Mission for helping resume operations of the telecommunications provider Vodafone in certain areas of the Donetsk Region. We hope that observers will continue to ensure local ceasefire regimes so that repairs can be conducted in other sectors of the  line of contact.

Mr Chairperson,

Kiev’s sabotage of the Minsk Package of Measures is directly linked with the further degradation of the situation in the post-Maidan Ukraine. Radical nationalists are becoming more influential, and the degree of their influence is directly proportional to their confidence that they will be able to get away with their deeds. The culprits are running loose four years after people were burned alive inside the Odessa House of Trade Unions. Nikolai Kokhanovsky, the leader of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists, noted the need to replace the May 1 and May 9 holidays with May 2, when, in his words, Odessa’s Ukrainians had stopped the Russian spring. In effect, he suggested celebrating the mass burning of people inside the House of Trade Unions. The nationalists are burning Orthodox churches, cultural centres and are intimidating ethnic minorities. They are bragging about their crimes. Being aware that there will be no punishment, radicals from the C14 organisation posted photos on social networks showing a Roma camp that was set on fire on Lysaya Gora on April 19. Yesterday, nationalists attacked the head of the Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation in Kiev. Will the culprits be brought to justice?

So far, Ukrainian authorities have failed to uphold the law. Judges are not protected by the law, and police officers prefer not to deal with the radicals. In some cases, they even cooperate with them. The journalists have been intimidated. The population is being divided into the ideologically safe camp and the alleged separatists. The latter category includes everyone who disagrees with the official policies.

The sway of nationalism in Ukraine is becoming embarrassing even to Kiev’s main sponsor. A bipartisan group of 57 members of the US House of Representatives has recently sharply criticised the US Department of State for failure to react to the glorification of Nazism in Kiev and the accompanying rise in anti-Semitism in Ukraine. They urged the US administration to “use all available diplomatic channels to work with the Ukrainian government to combat the rise of this hateful ideology.” Has the State Department responded to this in any way?

Nationalism is being encouraged at the state level in Ukraine. Contrary to its international commitments, Kiev is waging an offensive against the minorities’ right to receive an education in their native tongues. I am referring to the so-called education reform in Ukraine, which includes a revision of education laws stipulating that the language of instruction at all schools must be Ukrainian, the official language, including for minorities.

A veritable hunt for Crimeans is underway in Ukraine. On April 23, Yelena Odnovol, head of the reginal branch of the Russian organisation Victory Volunteers, was detained at the Chongar checkpoint on the Russian-Ukrainian border on charges of organising subversive activities. Vladimir Gorbenko, captain of the Russian fishing vessel Nord is being kept hostage in Ukraine. His trial under fabricated charges is ongoing. He is prevented from returning to his home country. We demand that these Russian citizens be released immediately.

Many people in Ukraine refuse to join in the nationalist activities of radicals and neo-Nazis. They remain loyal to the universal human values. There is a wide gap between the schizophrenic statements made by Ukrainian leaders and the real sentiments of the people. The events held to mark Victory Day, including the Immortal Regiment march, have shown this convincingly. We admire the courage of those Ukrainians who took part in these events despite the tragedy in Odessa [on May 2, 2014] and the neo-Nazi atrocities in Mariupol on May 9, 2014, which we will never forget. They did this despite the threats to burn down the Inter television network for broadcasting the Victory Day concert and despite the fact that Kiev police sided with the nationalists. The police maltreated Yelena Berezhnaya, an organiser of the May 9 commemoration events, during her arrest. Valentina Solovyova and Olga Yuryeva, journalists from Russia’s Channel One and Rossiya television networks, have been deported from Ukraine. This is fresh evidence of the Ukrainian government’s fear of objective reporting.

A political solution to the Ukrainian crisis and the preservation of the country’s territorial integrity are only possible through the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements, including the political provisions of the Minsk Package of Measures, and only through a direct dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. Radicals must be brought to their senses, and Kiev must demonstrate genuine readiness to settle internal problems through dialogue, acting in a civilised manner and showing tolerance for different opinions. If the Kiev authorities realise this, there will be hope for progress towards the settlement of this internal Ukrainian crisis.

Thank you.