I would like to thank you for responding to our request and convening this meeting. I would like also to congratulate you with successful Presidency and thank for your constructive and effective work.
My only regret that we could not have this meeting on Friday as it was preliminary set so my Minister would make it here from Beijing, which he is visiting right now, and address the Security Council.
I am gladly taking this opportunity to thank the UN, all the Nations that took part some days ago in a UN GA special session to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the sad day of the Chornobyl disaster. Our prayers go to families of perished and affected by this tragedy in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and far beyond our borders.
Two days ago I was at the Chornobyl Station and was privileged to witness the how EBRD and our Ministry of Energy in the presence of the President of Ukraine signed the additional Agreement allowing international consortium to accumulate ALMOST enough money to finish this year a Chornobyl project.
I am happy to report to you that the new confinement — the biggest moving structure ever being built by humanity is close to completion.
In November it will start rolling over the station effectively sealing off the remnants of the reactor thus preventing further radioactive contamination. Ukrainians are deeply grateful to all donor nations, all P-5, G-7, EU, EBRD, industry and international organisations for putting together efforts and resources and striving to turn over the page of the biggest technological disaster in our history.
This is a great achievement and I do believe that by such concerted effort we will be able to resolve all the issues regardless of how impossibly complicated they might seen at the moment.
this is not an only issue which brought me here today. As if the land of Ukraine has not suffered enough already, as you all know we are struggling for more than 2 years now through the aggression of our neighbour and formerly so called brotherly nation.
As we heard today from the briefing, and I am thankful to the Secretariat and OSCE SMM and Trilateral Contact Group for familiarizing the Council with the state of affairs on the ground, over 30,300 Ukrainians have fallen victims of the hostilities in Donbas: about 10,000 were killed and 21,000 wounded. More than 1.7 million of Ukrainians had to leave their homes and become internally displaced persons.
Every day Ukrainian families lose a son, a father, a husband, a brother. Every day Ukrainian men and women get wounded often becoming physically and psychologically handicapped for the rest of their lives.
Only on April 23 4 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 5 wounded as a result of militants’ shelling. Tonight, we witness another tragic death of 3 civilian and 7 more wounded probably caught in cross-fire. This incident has to be properly investigated. Ukraine has already invited OSCE monitors to the site.
This war, very hybrid by nature but very real in spilled blood is claiming its victims regardless of the ethnicity and languages our people are speaking, Ukrainians, Russians, Greeks, Germans, Pols, Jews, all of them.
But there is one particular nation which fate is again at stake — Crimean Tatars. Again this indigenous population of the Crimean Peninsula is suffering, as 60 years ago from the brutal Moscow grip, then Stalin, now is a New Great Leeder. People are disappearing, the only representative body — Mejelis is banned by occupation forces under the false pretext coming very wide spread now — extremist activity (couple of days ago, by the way, a Russian citizen and Moscow dweller — had her time in the jail extended obviously being extremist enough to have Ukrainian books in her possession. Serious crime indeed, bearing in mind that she is actually a Director of the only official Ukrainian library in Moscow). But back to Crimean Tatars, whose homes are raided, unique culture and language are endangered once again.
Tatar leaders warn that ban potentially threatens more than 2000 members of about 250 central and local Mejlis structures traditionally elected by Crimean Tatar communities. They can at any time be accused of conducting extremist activity and prosecuted or pushed out of Crimea.
More than 130 criminal cases against Crimean Tatars were held, 21 representatives of Crimean Tatars were kidnapped, 9 are still missing, 3 were lately found dead.
I am calling today on the Security Council to demand from the Russian Federation to restore the rights of the Crimean Tatars, make sure that the joke of the Crimean courts and Prosecutor office would cancel their decision on Mejilis ban and, in more broader sense, — just get off our land in the Crimea and the East of Ukraine.
Let me be absolutely clear, I am humbled by the sheer magnitude of the attention given by this esteemed Council to the Ukrainian issue. As a matter of fact, we do not want the Russian aggression against Ukraine to transform into yet another item on the Security Council’s agenda that is regularly debated but brings no tangible progress towards settlement of the conflict.
Since assuming our responsibility in the Council, the Ukrainian delegation demonstrated an utmost restraint in bringing up this subject.
But as it was already mentioned by our distinguished briefers, the security situation is not improving and Minsk accord is not being implemented.
I am here today to provide the international community with the relevant information on the actual state of affairs on the ground and help to create an impetus for a genuine political process aimed at finding a sustainable peaceful solution to the conflict.
Ukraine is convinced that it can only be settled on the basis of the Minsk Agreements.
All of us sick and tired of Russia’s accusation of bloody revolt in Ukraine and violation by Ukraine of Minsk agreements. We have heard it all. I made a very rewarding effort to familiarize myself with all the public statements by distinguished Russian representative as of today. 84 pages worth reading, most of the things are well formulated and even resemble the truth only if you allow yourself to forget a principled thing — who came to whose land and who is poring more weapons, mercenaries and regular soldiers on day to day basis.
For the sake of sanity of this distinguished gathering I will stay away from yet another attempt of setting aside truth from half truth and lies.
Just a couple of the most important points. Since all the sides, including Russia, committed to a ceasefire after some ups and downs the situation along the line of contact recently deteriorated. Only this week (19–26 Apr.) the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission reported about 500 case of ceasefire violations by the illegal armed groups, indicating that the intensity of fighting as “not seen since August 2014” — that is a period when Russian troops massively invaded Ukrainian territory.
Russia’s proxies in Donbas still heavily impede the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to access all areas under their control and to verify the ceasefire and withdrawal of weapons. Let me remind you, that full and safe SMM access throughout Ukraine, including the Ukrainian-Russian State Border and creating a security area along this border is stipulated in the original Minsk agreement of September 2014, which our Russian colleagues tend to forget.
SMM reported that 95 % of all freedom-of-movement incidents in this period imposed by the militants. In particular:
— on 7 April SMM vehicle was hit by bullet near Snizhne and SMM observers were threatened at gunpoint in Smile village;
— on 9 April, SMM patrol came under militant’s fire in Zhovanka,
— on 18 April, in the Donetsk city, militants threatened to open fire at the OSCE monitors and to detain them;
— on 25 April the leader of the self-proclaimed DPR Zakharchenko, publically threatened to shoot OSCE observers if police mission to be deployed in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
We are extremely concerned that illegal armed groups continue shelling the positions of Ukraine Armed forces and civilian sites, especially areas located near the agreed areas for demining. Despite these provocations, we are fully committed to completing the demining of all agreed priority areas and we are grateful to the UN demining experts planning their assistance.
On a personal note, I recently saw an 11 years old kid from Ukrainian town Mariupol being treated now in Montreal and taken care of by the Ukrainian community of Canada. A boy was on a walk with his brother and friends but was silly enough to pick up something from the ground after the bombardment. This costed him three limbs. More to it, he is not aware yet that he has no younger brother anymore.
Another matter is restoring damaged economic and social infrastructure to provide living conditions for local civilians on both sides of the touch-line. Repair of damaged facilities, including water pipelines may be realized only after ensuring of real de-escalation of security situation and provided personal safety guarantees of the repairers.
Along with that we remain deeply concerned with the continuing aggravation of humanitarian situation on the ground due to unwillingness of the illegal armed groups in Donbas to unblock the activities of international humanitarian organizations in the region.
After months of negotiations, we still cannot get out 120 Ukrainians from captivity in Donbas regardless of the “all-for-all” formula seemed to be recognized by everybody. Even ICRC is not allowed to visit them as well as to search for about 800 missing persons. “Médecins Sans Frontières” are accused of espionage and banned from the region by the Russian proxies and this is done despite the promises of the Russian Federation to put additional pressure on illegal armed groups to let the international humanitarian organization into the region.
Yesterday, we barely managed to get our vice-speaker, who is leading a humanitarian group in the TCG in Minsk after she was banned by Russia and this ban was supported by Belarus. And this is despite the fact that Belarus offered its capital for peace talks.
We are carefully collecting all evidence of crimes against humanity in the area. Some of it already published — our mission will circulate this information — tough reading, trust me. Lots of bad pictures.
The hard security part is also showing no signs of positive change.
Russia has organized and deployed in Donbas a 34,000-strong hybrid military force consisting of the regular Russian troops as well as of foreign and local militants. Russian generals and military officers provide direct command-and-control of this illegal military entity impressively heavily armed. In particular, today terrorists have at least 470 tanks, 870 armoured combat vehicles, 450 tube artillery systems, 190 MLRS, operated by so called “upset miners”. This is more than most of NATO members have in their Armed Forces and allegedly was acquired in the local hardware stores. Last time I checked you will hardly be able to buy a decent knife in Ukrainian stores not to mention the multiple launch rocket systems and jet flamethrowers which, by the way, cannot be found in the stocks of Ukrainian Armed Forces.
We would highly appreciate if the Russian Federation takes a lead and kindly offer the beloved separatists to safely store their deadly toys on the Russian territory verifiable by the OSCE thus removing another stumbling block on the way of long-awaited peace. Just to show real interest in the Minsk process and bringing closer lifting of the sanctions.
I do not want take much of your precious time. Our permanent mission will be happy to provide those interested with the intelligence information gathered on direct Russian involvement into the conflict.
Russian proxies consistently ruin the social and economic infrastructure of Donbas, once Ukraine’s industrial powerhouse. They dismantle entire factories and take them to Russia. Vast reserves of coal in Donbas are being stolen and transported to Russia.
Ukraine has lost over 20 % of GDP as a result of the Russian aggression. And this is on top of effectively the economic war the Russian Federation waged on us blocking our export as well as transit to Central Asia states and China. All of this, let me remind you in contradiction with so called the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 where signatories promised not to exert economic pressure on Ukraine.
We are totally committed to the political settlement. More than 30 times our experts went to Minsk to clarify how political resolution can be achieved, how we rebuild the destroyed economy, revive the region, decentralize our political system. I have no time today to discuss these issues in details but only want to mention one key point — the elections which are not only essential to the peace process but are becoming real. We have prepared all pieces of legislation, ready to discuss their modalities, as leaders agreed in Minsk.
What we need to kick start election process under OSCE standards and in conformity with the Ukrainian Law, as it was agreed by leaders, is a better security situation on the ground. Let’s be reasonable. No security — no one will go to hold or monitor the elections.
Recently, the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko proposed to deploy the police mission in the Donbas. We believe it would contribute to ensuring a safe and secure environment in Donbas, in particular in the context of local elections.
Status and mandate of the mission, its umbrella and composition is a matter for negotiations. We are open for it.
We continue to call upon the international community including the UN and OSCE member States to constructively engage in practical implementation of this initiative.
Coming to the end of my remarks I want to draw your attention to the issue of human rights again. At least 11 Ukrainian citizens have become political prisoners in Russia. Among them member of the Ukrainian Parliament, and Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Nadija Savchenko, Ukranian film-director Oleh Sentsov, native Crimean as well as other citizens of Ukraine Olexander Kolchenko, Mykola Karpyuk, Stanislav Klyk, Genadiy Afanasiev; Valentyn Vyhovskiy, Oleksiy Chyrniy, Yuriy Soloshenko, Serhiy Lytvynov, Olexander Kostenko.
We approved the sanctions list against individuals who had taken part in the mock trials against Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia. It is the so called “Savchenko-Sentsov” list. We expect that our international partners will join this initiative.
There is nothing that we are interested in more than having a lasting peaceful solution, which is just and fair.
Not an easy task to accomplish. But anything short of that would be unacceptable to the people of Ukraine, whose best sons and daughters already paid the ultimate price defending their homeland.
We are ready to make our part of the way but I am afraid that all keys to sustainable de-escalation and subsequent long-lasting settlement reside in Moscow and they have to produce these keys and open peaceful, better future with no death, hatred and sanctions.