As for delivery by the Delegation of Ukraine to the
1132nd meeting of the Permanent Council, 2 February 2017
I wish to start by thanking again the Austrian OSCE
Chairmanship for convening a special Permanent Council on Tuesday, 31 January,
to have a debate concerning drastic military escalation in Donbas, the
offensive of the hybrid Russian forces and its disastrous consequences for the
civilian population, specifically in Avdiivka. On the same day these acute
security and humanitarian problems were raised in the UN Security Council, whose
press-statement called for an immediate return to a ceasefire regime.
On this day the SMM registered the highest number of
explosions in the Donetsk region yet recorded. In particular, as specified in
the SMM report of 1 February, the monitors registered approximately 1800
and then 2640 outgoing explosions of MLRS (unknown type) from the occupied Horlivka, 65-80 outgoing explosions of MLRS “Grad” from the
occupied Yasynuvata, almost 200 impacts of MLRS
rounds near Avdiivka.
However, despite the diplomatic efforts and calls on Russia
and its proxies for ceasefire, the hybrid Russian forces have continued their
assault on Avdiivka and its suburbs, intensively using proscribed heavy
weapons, including MLRS “Grad”, tanks, artillery and mortars. Yesterday morning,
residential areas of Avdiivka were shelled by MLRS “Grad”, causing destruction.
One woman was killed, three persons were wounded, 52
houses were destroyed fully or partially. In the last 24 hours the attacks by
the hybrid Russian forces killed two Ukrainian servicemen, wounded ten and left
four injured. Since launching the offensive on Sunday, only yesterday the
Russian side provided the security guarantees for repair works and only until
17.00 hours. The Ukrainian emergency repair teams which immediately moved
to locate the electric power line disruption and carry out the necessary repair
works came under fire of the hybrid Russian forces, disregarding the security
guarantees, and were forced to return.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian authorities have continued to take
exhaustive measures to prevent humanitarian disaster in the town, which is cut
off from electricity, normal heating and water supply in freezing weather
conditions. On Tuesday the Prime Minister of Ukraine visited Avdiivka, assuring
co-ordination and full support to address the needs of the people. As of this
morning the offer of voluntary evacuation was used by 175 people, including 94
children. The security and humanitarian situation rapidly deteriorates along
the entire line of contact as a result of large-scale cease-fire violations by
the hybrid Russian forces, which is well registered by the SMM report of 1
The situation remains extremely dangerous. The hybrid
Russian forces do not abandon their offensive plans, extended a short cease-fire
window and broke it. The shellings continue as we
speak. Early this morning the SMM informed about denial of entry to Yasynuvata, preventing further movement to the Donetsk
filtration station. The SMM was able to proceed only after over 1,5 hours.
We strongly urge Russia to immediately halt the offensive
actions and shellings of Avdiivka and in Donbas as a
whole. We reiterate Russia’s responsibility for the casualties, destruction,
displacement and human sufferings it has brought to Donbas. We urge Russia to
stop flagrant violation of the Minsk agreements it has signed. Establishment of
a sustainable cease-fire regime and security are urgently needed to meet
humanitarian needs of the civilian population.
The current military escalation near Avdiivka is not an
isolated gross violation of the Minsk agreements by Russia, but a continuation
of the aggressive patterns of its military and political planners. In the
course of one month, from 24 December 2016, when the cease-fire was due to get reestablished, until 25 January 2017, the hybrid
Russian forces violated cease-fire 1485 times, 348 attacks were carried
out by proscribed weapons. They were carried out with multiple weapons,
missiles and rounds. Nine Ukrainian servicemen were killed, 70 were wounded in
The cease-fire violations and offensive operations of the
hybrid Russian forces are sustained by the permanent flow of weapons,
ammunition and manpower from Russia through the uncontrolled segment of the
Ukrainian-Russian state border.
Because the SMM remains strictly restricted in its freedom
of movement in the occupied areas, its reports can only indicate “a tip of the
iceberg” concerning the military movements and flows in those areas. We took
note of the report of 30 January about the presence of 13 MLRS “BM-21
Grad” in violation of withdrawal lines near the town of Khrustalnyi
in Luhansk oblast. Prior to that, on 22 January the SMM reported about
observing near Khrustalny five stationary trucks with
boxes of MLRS “Grad” rockets and seven other trucks with additional boxes.
On 27 January the SMM reported about spotting
45 military-type trucks assessed as modern models of Kamaz
and Ural trucks (which are in use by the Russian Armed Forces) near Amvrosiivka controlled by the Russian hybrid forces in the
These findings underscore the urgency of the establishment
of permanent OSCE monitoring and verification at the Ukrainian-Russian state
border as a critically important step for de-escalation in Donbas.
The restrictions on the SMM’s freedom of movement and access
in areas, not controlled by the Government of Ukraine, prevent it from
effectively fulfilling its mandate and presenting a full picture of the
situation. We draw attention in this regard to the fact that as the hybrid
Russian forces launched an assault on Avdiivka, including with the use of heavy
weapons from residential areas of Yasynuvata, they
denied access to Yasynuvata of SMM monitors,
confirmed by the mission’s reports of 30 January, 31 January and 1 February.
We welcome the calls of yesterday’s TCG meeting on strict
adherence to full and comprehensive cessation of fire; withdrawal by 5 February
2017 into permanent storage sites of all weapons regulated by Minsk agreements
to the distances defined in them and beyond the respective lines; safe and
secure access for SMM to fulfil their mandate; facilitation of humanitarian
efforts, including through repair of infrastructure. While assuring of
Ukraine’s commitment to the path of peaceful resolution, we expect Russia and
its proxies to deliver on these calls in good faith.
Although the focus of our current attention is placed on
de-escalation and peaceful resolution of the conflict with Russia, taking place
on Ukraine’s territory of Donbas, the resolution of the crisis in and around
Ukraine requires not only full implementation of the Minsk agreements, but also
a peaceful de-occupation of another part of Ukraine’s sovereign territory - the
It is important for the international community to continue
to stand up vocally against serious human rights violations, repressions and
persecutions, perpetrated in Crimea under Russia’s illegal occupation. These
violations continue. Most recently, the European Federation of Journalists
reminded Russia of Ukrainian journalists Mykola Semena
and Roman Sushchenko, who face fabricated charges of,
respectively, separatism and espionage and called for their immediate release.
At the last Permanent Council we drew attention to the
detention on 25 January of Nikolay Polozov, the lawyer of the Deputy Chairman of the Crimean
Tatar Mejlis Ilmi Umerov. On 26 January the Russian authorities detained and
placed under arrest Emil Kuberdinov, the lawyer of Ilmi Umerov, Mykola Semena and others who disagree with Russia’s illegal
occupation of the peninsula.
These detentions demonstrate that lawyers who defend
dissenting voices in Crimea join the list of victims of the Russian occupation.
The openly political character of such persecution prompted a public letter of
a group of Russian lawyers on 30 January, pointing out to the consistent policy
of suppressing fundamental human rights and freedoms in Crimea. Let me make a
quote from the assessment of the situation by the Russian lawyers: “Freedom of
assembly, conscience and speech are in fact abolished on the peninsula.
Criminal charges, administrative arrests and fines are generously dispensed to
the people of any views and fields of activity only for an attempt to express
their opinion, to hang out a flag in a car, to criticize the authorities or to
hold a peaceful protest. The judicial system in Crimea is reduced to the level
We again urge the Russian Federation to stop persecutions,
to immediately free illegally detained persons and exercise responsibility for
respect of human rights and freedoms on the part of Ukraine’s territory it
invaded and illegally occupied nearly three years ago.
Yesterday Kremlin indicated what prompted its military
offensive in Donbas, viewing the escalation as “a ground for resuming dialogue
and cooperation between Moscow and Washington”. Russia again opted for deadly
violence. In this connection it is of paramount importance for the
international community to continue to be firm and clear: aggression will bring
cost and not rewards. Russia’s flagrant violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and
territorial integrity must be fully corrected.
We urge Russia to return to the tenets of international law,
to implement in good faith the undertaken Minsk commitments and reverse the
illegal annexation of Crimea.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.