Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich’s remarks at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on the situation in Ukraine and the need to implement the Minsk Agreements Vienna, May 17, 2018

Monday, 21 May 2018 18:40

Mr Chairperson,

Hardly had US special representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker arrived in Ukraine when a new flare-up was reported on the contact line. On May 16, a woman was killed in Golmovsky by an artillery shell launched from government-controlled territory and 40 Grad rockets were launched at the Donetsk Filtration Station (DFS). A resident of Zaitsevo was wounded by mortar fire during the morning hours today.

According to the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM), a woman was wounded in Dokuchayevsk on May 11, a man was gravely wounded and 36 buildings were damaged in Gorlovka on May 13. On May 15, an artillery strike targeted the residential districts of Dokuchayevsk. Since January 1, 2018, the SMM has reported the consequences of 53 strikes delivered from government-controlled territory, in which over 100 buildings were damaged, 31 civilians were wounded and five civilians were killed. I would like to remind you that the SMM does not report every single one of these strikes.

The situation with the Donetsk Filtration Station (DFS) is critical. SMM observers again refused to help deliver a new personnel replacement to the DFS because of shelling. As the SMM writes in its report for May 15, “the SMM heard the whistling sound of a bullet flying … above their heads” from a direction where the self-defence forces are deployed at a standoff distance. The new shift was brought to the filtration station only yesterday thanks to assistance from the self-defence forces and the SMM. As of May 16, the DFS has been attacked 253 and hit 350 times and had to suspend operation 32 times. The Ukrainian Armed Forces deliberately attacked official DFS vehicles four times (on March 7, 12 and 13 and on April 17), wounding five DFS workers. To ensure a stable operation of this vital facility, the disengagement of troops and weapons should be coordinated based on the experience of the three existing disengagement areas.

Kiev must be forced to resume the implementation of the Framework Decision on the disengagement of forces and hardware in three areas. The Ukrainian Armed Forces have taken positions in Zolotoye and Petrovskoye, bringing infantry fighting vehicles, mine launchers and machine-guns there. The self-defence forces have not entered these areas. The Ukrainian Armed Forces refuse to withdraw from Stanitsa Luganskaya.

On May 12, they made yet another attempt to break through towards Gorlovka. The reduction of the distance between the sides is escalating tension.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces are increasing their strike power in Donbass. The SMM has reported seeing 77 weapons of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, including 41 howitzers at the railway station in Konstantinovka, within two weeks between the Contact Group meetings on May 4 and 14, which is contrary to the Minsk Agreements. On May 8, the SMM reported a column of armoured vehicles near Panteleimonovka. Trenches have been extended near Novotroitskoye, Zolotoye and Prichepilovka and new mine fields near Schastye. During an inspection of Ukrainian designated storage sites on May 8, the SMM reported that 135 heavy weapons were missing.

Mr Chairperson,

In an attempt to manipulate public opinion and outside support, Ukrainian officials are crudely distorting the provisions of the Package of Measures. They are trying to build a false connection between a hypothetical peacekeeping operation in Donbass and the holding of local elections. We have to recall the provisions of this fundamental document.

Terms for the election are as follows: ceasefire (item 1), withdrawal of weapons (item 2) and a dialogue on modalities of local elections. Importantly, issues related to local elections shall be discussed and agreed upon with representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions in the framework of the Contact Group (item 12).

To emphasise, according to item 12, representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions are already working in the framework of the Contact Group – even prior to the local elections. Assertions about the absence of these representatives are unfounded.

Let’s again pay attention to Kiev’s failure to abide by items 4 and 11 of the Package of Measures on the special status and the elections, and Ukraine’s stubborn refusal to put on paper the formula of Frank-Walter Steinmeier in the Contact Group. The Kiev negotiators are artificially impeding the implementation of item 6 of the Package of Measures on the exchange of detained persons, based on the principle “all for all” and are fiddling with exchange lists.

Incitement of Ukrainian nationalism is a serious obstacle to peace. A graphic example is the anti-Semitic statements by Ukrainian diplomat, consul in Hamburg Vasyl Marushchynets. They show what deep chords nationalist ideas have struck. However, the diplomat with nationalistic views was recalled only after broad repercussions after this incident and international pressure. Thousands of other manifestations of aggressive nationalism, glorification of Nazism, chauvinism, Russophobia and anti-Semitism are neglected by the Ukrainian authorities and the international public.

The Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) confirms six incidents with the involvement of Ukrainian radicals in the past week alone. On May 8, the head of the Kharkov affiliate of the Nationalist Corps boasted to the SMM with impunity that his group staged a pogrom in the office of the NGO Trudovaya Kharkovshchina. The observers recorded the results of this raid by neo-Nazis. On May 10, nationalists abused representatives of sexual minorities and painted a swastika on the building of a public organisation in Kiev. On May 6, nationalists slapped in the face an anti-Maidan activist several times in Odessa. The woman had to seek medical attention. On May 9, the day celebrating the victory over Nazism, radicals of the Right Sector, the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists and S14 started a scuffle in Kiev. They provoked participants in the celebrations and chanted insulting slogans in Odessa and Nikolayev. Not only European but also universal values are foreign to those whom the Ukrainian authorities call “patriots.” We are compelled to draw your attention over and over again to the manifestations of radical nationalism, neo-Nazism, extremism and xenophobia, which are routine for Ukraine. We reaffirm our request to the SMM to inform the OSCE member-states about these problems in Ukraine in a thematic report.

Ukraine is stepping up pressure on journalists that are trying to do honest work, without looking back at the belligerent state media. On May 15, the authorities detained journalist of the RIA Novosti Ukraine agency Kirill Vyshinsky. Judging by the charges of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) he was detained for carrying out his journalistic duties – telling the public the truth about domestic events. OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir denounced these actions. We demand the immediate release of Vyshinsky.

Russians living in Crimea continue to be hunted. Captain of the ship Nord Vladimir Gorbenko and activist Yelena Odnovol are being held hostage in Ukraine. On May 4, Ukrainian secret services arrested Russian citizen Valery Rudnev on charges of desertion on board his vessel in the port of Chernomorsk.  In this way Kiev continues to take revenge on Crimean residents for their historic choice.

We have not forgotten the Russian citizens whom Kiev continues detaining on false charges in connection with the tragedy in Odessa in 2014 and other cases. In this way Kiev forms “an exchange reserve” by seizing hostages.

Recently, Ukraine has staged extreme provocations at international venues. The latest example is the propaganda and fake news event staged by Ukraine in the UN Headquarters in New York with the participation of so-called veterans of the anti-terrorist operation. In the process Ukrainians insulted and threatened a Russian representative in the lobby.

All these actions are links of the same chain and fit well with Kiev’s course towards further escalating tensions. Under the circumstances, the SMM is designed to play an important moderating role, providing closer monitoring of the contact line and meticulously recording all cases of shelling and the concentration of arms.

Thank you for your attention.

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