Statement by Permanent Representative of Russia to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich at the OSCE Permanent Council meeting on developments in Ukraine and the need to implement the Minsk Agreements, Vienna, May 3, 2018
We are seeing an escalation of tensions in Donbass. Kiev’s security forces are increasing the shelling of residential neighbourhoods and civilian infrastructure. They open fire not only at night but also during the day, using tanks, mortars and grenade launchers.
The punitive operation that is now called “operation of united forces” is taking an increasing toll. According to the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), as a result of shelling from the deployment site of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), one civilian was wounded on April 22; two civilians were killed and one wounded on April 28 in Dokuchayevsk; a woman was wounded in the Petrovsky District in Donetsk on April 29. On the same day, civilians came under fire near the DPR’s checkpoint in Yelenovka, and one was injured. Two civilians were wounded in Verkhnetoretskoye on May 1. In all, five civilians were killed and 24 wounded in April by strikes committed by Ukrainian security forces. Residential buildings were damaged in Yasinovataya, Mikhailovka, Dokuchayevsk and Kominternovo.
Civilian victims should be listed in separate SMM reports. Security forces are deliberately targeting civilian facilities. This is unacceptable.
Despite security guarantees, the shelling of the Donetsk Filtration Station (DFS) continued. On April 28, SMM observers recorded five MLRS explosions in the area of Yasinovataya. As a result, SMM patrolling and the rotation of DFS workers were delayed for a day. This crude provocation by Ukrainian Armed Forces threatened the lives of observers and station workers and the failsafe operation of the station that supplies water to over half a million people on both sides of the contact line. This is a significant example of obstructing SMM operations. Other incidents pale in comparison.
Obstacles to SMM drones were created exclusively on the territory under Ukrainian Armed Forces control. On April 27, one mini drone was hit in the area of the AFU-controlled Novolugansky and another two drones were jammed near Talakovka and Bogdanovka.
We welcome the courage and self-sacrifice of the observers who continued to patrol the Donetsk Filtration Station and helped workers carry out repairs on other sections of the contact line. The SMM is thereby rendering real assistance to the people of Donbass. The local residents do appreciate it.
Apart from ensuring the operation of the DFS, the SMM restored the Vodafone mobile signal in a number of areas controlled by the self-defence fighters in the Donetsk Region.
Last year the Ukrainian authorities created unacceptable conditions for the work of Russian officers in the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination in Ukraine (JCCC). Their functions went to local authorities. The SMM also had to take on additional responsibilities. We urge the SMM leaders to spare no effort and time to coordinate security guarantees, and, if necessary, send more personnel to the communication cell with the JCCC.
Kiev is provoking tensions in Donbass and building up strength. The SMM confirms that the Ukrainian security forces have occupied the Zolotoye disengagement area where Ukrainian military positions, bunkers, trenches, mine fields, armed soldiers and combat hardware have been identified. The ceasefire is not being observed in a single area of the disengagement of forces. The Ukrainian Armed Forces are ignoring the willingness of the militia fighters to withdraw forces in Stanitsa Luganskaya.
During the week of April 23-29, the SMM recorded 201 pieces of military equipment belonging to the Ukrainian Armed Forces in violation of the disengagement line. For comparison, the self-defence fighters only have 16 pieces. Immediately beyond the disengagement line, observers recorded military hardware exclusively on Ukrainian territory – 68 pieces, including a concentration of tanks at the railway station in Rubeshnoye.
Kiev continues laying mines in Donbass. Observers discovered new mine fields in the Vodyanoye and Novotoshkovskoye areas.
On April 30, the Kiev authorities announced the end of the so-called “antiterrorist operation.” Of course, no terrorists were found. From the beginning, this was a punitive action against those who did not accept the coming to power of a nationalist regime in Kiev. Just recall the video footage from Donbass in April 2014, when people were stopping Ukrainian Armed Forces (VSU) armoured vehicles with their bare hands. But four years ago, on May 2, 2014, Kiev launched an active phase in the military operation in Slavyansk and Kramatorsk, which involved the use of artillery, tanks and aircraft. Actually since that day, a count of mass-scale loss of life has been kept. In just four years, no less than 10,000 people have been killed, nearly 30,000 have been wounded, many buildings have been destroyed, and there are hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons. Responsibility for this rests entirely with the instigators of this bloody scheme, the Kiev leadership and their overseas sponsors.
The turning point in the conflict was the tragedy in Odessa on May 2, 2014. No fewer than 50 people were burned alive in the House of Trade Unions by a gang of nationalists. The authorities continue to cover up the masterminds and perpetrators of this crime. “The authorities have largely failed to investigate the deaths, focusing on alleged crimes committed by individuals seeking more autonomy.” This is a quote from a US Department of State report on Ukraine. Usually, the Department of State seeks to cover up for any crimes committed by Kiev. Similar conclusions have been drawn by international organisations and NGOs.
Here is another quote from the State Department report: “The government generally failed to take adequate steps to prosecute or punish most officials who committed abuses, resulting in a climate of impunity. Human rights groups and the United Nations noted significant deficiencies in investigations into human rights abuses committed by government security forces, in particular into allegations of torture, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, and other abuses reportedly perpetrated by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).”
The “antiterrorist operation” was essentially a nationalist action, inhuman in its goals, and criminal in its execution. It should have been stopped. A change in the operation’s format alone will hardly lead to peace. This is evident in the build-up of bellicose rhetoric, the inflow of imported arms to the VSU, and the arrival of Western instructors in Donbass. We caution Kiev against attempts to resume its reckless military gamble like we saw in the summer of 2014 and the winter of 2015.
We call on all OSCE member states to avoid becoming accomplices in Kiev’s military crimes, to avoid provoking a disastrous military clash in the centre of Europe.
Is Kiev’s indulgent attitude towards neo-Nazism worthy of support? In late April, various Ukrainian cities hosted marches in memory of SS Galicia Division. The glorification of the criminal Stepan Bandera has been raised to nearly the level of state cult status. The Right Sector, S14, and Azov are neo-Nazi organisations that operate in Ukraine freely and with impunity. We call on the SMM to promptly draft a thematic report on nationalist activities in Ukraine.
The crackdown on the rights of Russian speakers and ethnic minorities in Ukraine has reached an unprecedented scale in language policy, education and the media.
Kiev has demonstrated a contemptuous attitude towards its citizens living in Donbass in the social sphere as well. In January 2017, it imposed a trade blockade that broke off economic ties between businesses on both sides of the line of contact. Earlier, the region was cut off from Ukraine’s monetary and financial space. The distribution of pensions and social benefits has been made difficult at best. Kiev has created problems for those wishing to obtain IDs, diplomas or car registration plates.
The Kiev regime is attempting to exploit the population’s religious feelings and make them serve the political goals; it is provoking a split in society by encouraging attacks on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Much has been said about media freedom in Ukraine. The latest instances, to which we draw the attention of the Italian OSCE Chairmanship and the Representative on Freedom of the Media, are the following: On May 1, an Italian journalist, Giorgio Bianchi, who wanted to attend mourning events in Odessa, was detained at Kiev’s Borispol Airport. On the same day, Ukrainian border guards barred another journalist, Jan Rychetsky of the Prague-based Parliamentni Listy online resource from entering the country. His access has been banned until 2020.
In conclusion one has to reiterate the need for the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements, including all political aspects. The Ukrainian authorities continue to ignore them. Kiev does not want to accept solutions under the “Steinmeier formula.” They indulge in the fantasy that local elections in Donbass will take place only after the VSU “puts things in order” there. Otherwise, an election would allegedly not be honest and fair. “Fairness Kiev-style” was demonstrated by the elections in Ukraine’s 40 united territorial communities on April 29. Chairman of the Ukraine
Voters Committee Alexey Koshel commented on these as follows: “The political parties and candidates set a record both in the number and scale of bribes offered to the electorate. The impunity (given the results of previous elections) made it possible for politicians to turn the elections into a vote supermarket.”
Donbass should hardly take this for a model.
Thank you for your attention.