Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the UN Security Council Briefing by the Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE

Mr. Chairperson-in-Office,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I wish to thank the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz for his comprehensive presentation of the Austrian OSCE Chairmanship priorities for 2017. We appreciate personal dedication of Minister Kurz in trying to seek effective responses of the OSCE community to significant security threats and challenges confronting the participating States.

As recognized at the OSCE, the ongoing aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and its severe consequences remain among the top threats to European security. It is important that diffusing tensions and facilitating resolution of the crisis in and around Ukraine are identified as priorities of the Austrian Chairmanship. Three years ago, the Russian Federation effectively violated the UN Charter and all ten principles of the Helsinki Final Act by resorting to an armed aggression against a sovereign state of Ukraine, illegal occupation of the Crimea and the hybrid warfare in Donbas. Re-establishment of full respect to these principles is the way to restoration of security order based on the CSCE/OSCE process and the lessons of the Second World War.

We therefore commend determination of the Austrian Chairmanship to protect the OSCE fundamental principles and commitments, as recently demonstrated in condemning Russia’s unilateral measures on recognizing the so-called documents issued by illegal structures in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. This Russia’s action again defied the OSCE principles and the Minsk agreements. We welcome the readiness of the Chairmanship to exercise the leadership in performing its functions so urgently needed in these turbulent times for the OSCE community.

As the recent spike of hostilities near Avdiivka in Donbas has shown, the situation in the conflict-affected areas remains volatile and unpredictable., Escalation is possible anytime the Russian Federation considers it politically necessary or convenient. The military assault by the hybrid Russian forces on Avdiivka accompanied by massive shelling along the entire line of contact demonstrated the persistent unwillingness of Russia to honour its Minsk commitments, including their first provision of comprehensive and sustainable ceasefire. Russia’s political goal to undermine Ukraine, which set in motion its aggression against my country three years ago, remain unchanged. Instead of full and good-faith implementation of the Minsk commitments Russia resorts to political and military provocations, blackmail and political pressure.

We commend the immediate response of the OSCE Chairmanship and of the OSCE SMM, highlighting the scale of the offensive of the hybrid Russian forces and of its grave humanitarian impact. We appreciate the international diplomatic and political pressure put on the Russian Federation to stop the escalation, which contributed to some improvement of the security situation in the conflict area. Persistent focus, in particular at the OSCE and at the Security Council, on security and peaceful resolution is needed to discourage Russia from future provocations and escalations and force it to implement in full the undertaken commitments.

The OSCE, the Trilateral Contact Group and its humanitarian subgroup should pay particular attention to achieving immediate and unconditional release of Ukrainian citizens, who remain illegally detained as hostages or political prisoners in the occupied areas of Donbas and in Crimea, as well as in the the Russian Federation. It is necessary to maintain a united position of the international community to secure their release.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The resolution of the crisis in and around Ukraine, as the Russia-instigated conflict is called in the OSCE, requires not only peaceful resolution in Donbas with full respect to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, but also de-occupation of the Crimean Peninsula, which is an integral part of Ukraine.

As the illegal occupation continues, so do the gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by Russia’s occupation authorities.

The UN General Assembly resolution “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)”, adopted on 19 December 2016, was clear about extrajudicial killings, abductions, enforced disappearances, politically motivated prosecutions, discrimination, harassment, intimidation, violence, arbitrary detentions, torture and ill-treatment of residents of Crimea. The freedoms of expression, religion or belief and association and the right to peaceful assembly have been suppressed.

We must use all diplomatic assets and international instruments at our disposal to make sure that Crimea does not become an “exclusion zone” with regard to basic human rights. We encourage the OSCE Chairmanship and Institutions to pay close attention to the people in the occupied territory and alleviation of their plight.

We welcome the intentions of the Austrian Chairmanship to strengthen the OSCE as the organization, which can effectively and timely fulfill the tasks entrusted by the participating States.

Implementation of the Minsk agreements and the OSCE’s role in terms of monitoring, verification and mediation require adequate resources. We encourage your support, Mr. Minister, to efforts by Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine to facilitate resolution of the conflict in Donbas started by Russia. Among the immediate tasks are the effectiveness of monitoring and verification of the ceasefire and of the withdrawal of weapons, the establishment of permanent monitoring at the uncontrolled segment of the Ukrainian-Russian state border, as foreseen by the Minsk agreements. The Mission’s monitoring capabilities should be strengthened through increased use of high tech equipment, including UAVs, cameras and night vision equipment.

SMM monitors, face restrictions of movement and intimidations by the hybrid Russian forces in Donbas in their everyday activities. This is quite alarming, We encourage further discussions under the Austrian Chairmanship on how to provide for security before, during and after local elections in Donbas as a key element of political settlement of the conflict, which will be possible only after all the necessary security prerequisites are put in place.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We welcome and support the Austrian Chairmanship’s priorities on strengthening instruments for conflict prevention and resolution, modernizing the OSCE confidence and security-building measures and launching a structured dialogue addressing the prevailing threats and possible way forward.

My country suffers from terrorism and terrorist groups regularly sent from the Russian Federation into Donbas through the uncontrolled segment of the state border with Ukraine. We are therefore interested in sustained focus on the practical implementation of Counter-Terrorism Declaration adopted in Hamburg, as well as in strengthening border security, including by countering the phenomena of foreign terrorist fighters and other non-state actors. We see benefit in fostering international co-operation in these areas. In the meantime, Ukraine will continue taking legal steps to counter terrorist activity on its territory, in particular by bringing terrorists to justice and by submitting to the UN International Court of Justice the case of Russia’s violation of the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.

We support the intention of the Austrian Chairmanship to dedicate special attention to cyber security and further development of confidence- and security-building measures in the area. Ukraine is ready to share its experience, in investigating and countering cyber-attacks on critical energy infrastructure.

Human dimension is at the core of the OSCE concept of comprehensive security. We support the Austrian Chairmanship’s determination to promote enhanced implementation of respective commitments, including in such areas as freedom of assembly and association, freedom of media and expression, freedom of religion or belief, tolerance and non-discrimination. Strengthened co-operation with the civil society should be an integral part of these efforts.

We believe that such thematic issues as countering state propaganda, eradicating the phenomenon of political prisoners, combating torture and forced disappearances, ensuring rights of IDPs and refugees should stay high on the OSCE agenda. There can be no security without respect to human dignity, rule of law and fundamental human rights.

In conclusion, let me wish you, Mr. Chairperson-in-Office, a successful Chairmanship and practical outcomes in addressing key security threats and challenges that undermine peace and stability in the OSCE space.

I thank you