Statement by Sergiy Kyslytsya, Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine, at the
1276th meeting of the Committee of Ministers on 1 February 2017 on the
deteriorating situation in Donbas
At certain point in time, the Russian aggression in my
country has somehow become an elephant in the room, if I may employ this
metaphor recently used by Secretary General Jagland
himself in reference to Ukraine. In fact, the war is ongoing and reminds of
itself daily in the ugliest way – through deaths and sufferings of my fellow
The facts concerning the most recent escalation are
reflected in the statement of Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, distributed as
official document of this CM meeting. Today, I would like to bring your
attention to the following five fact-based points.
First, there is an evolving humanitarian crisis in and
around Avdiivka and Yasynuvata. Ukrainian government,
volunteers, and Red Cross are doing everything they can to help desperate
people on the ground.
Second, attempts to provide this help are hindered by
continued shelling and fire from terrorist-controlled territories with a wide
use of heavy weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements. Ukraine's calls for a
lasting ceasefire had been turned down for three consecutive days. The OSCE
SMMs officially reported yesterday that “the so-called “DPR” is refusing to
provide security guarantees necessary for patrolling in the Avdiivka-Yasynuvata area”.
Third, the attack on Avdiivka and Yasynuvata
constitutes an unlawful and extensive destruction of property not justified by
military necessity. Ukraine will add this crime to its recent application to
the International Court of Justice against Russia.
Fourth, Russian officials and media have launched a
propaganda operation to once again put the blame for the escalation on Ukraine.
Manipulation, psychological pressure and fake news aim at distorting reality.
We have seen this before. “Ukrainian soldier, your body will be found once the
snow melts” - in Avdiivka, both civilians and servicemen, receive these SMS on
their cell phones. It's the signature tactics of the Russian psychological
warfare as the one used during the bloody offensive on Debaltseve
exactly two years ago in January 2015. In that case, Russia was also accusing
Ukraine of escalating the situation up until it captured the city. The same
tactics of accusations was applied in Syria recently and in Georgian region of
South Osetia in 2008.
And, finally, the fifth point: the Council of Europe alone
cannot stop ongoing wars. Yet, it can and should make it crystal clear to the
aggressor that its gross violations of human rights will not remain unpunished.
Impunity leads to further crimes, and silence about the crimes makes them even
I would like to paraphrase the words of Dr. Martin
Luther King, one of the greatest champions of human dignity. I used the
same words addressing the UN General Assembly on 19 December last year, minutes
before it voted in favor of the Resolution that
defined Russia as an occupying power in Crimea: “In the end, we will remember
not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Earlier today, Russian representatives in the Joint Centre
for Control and Coordination have finally provided written guarantees of
ceasefire to be held from noon till five o’clock. It effectively demonstrated
who is in control over the actions of the terrorists. What’s vitally important
is that those five hours of ceasefire would have allowed our emergency teams to
start repairing critical infrastructure.
However, well before the deadline guaranteed by the Russian
generals in the JCCC, a Ukrainian non-military emergency team was caught by
fire just 300 meters away from the power transmission line it was about to
Today, according to the media reports, spokesperson of
President Putin, said that the escalation of fighting in Donbas creates ground
for the intensification of the US-Russia dialogue. It’s almost as if we see the
similar tactics of enforcing a dialogue between Kremlin and the White House at
the cost of sufferings and death in eastern Ukraine.
If history is any lesson, let’s be realistic about Russia
after three years of war and three latest days of heavy fighting. Let’s work
together to make Russia fully implement the Minsk agreements.
I thank you, Mr Chairperson.