Comment by the Information and Press Department on the situation around Joint Centre for Control and Coordination in Ukraine
The Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC) on ceasefire and stabilisation of the demarcation line between the parties was set up in September 2014 in southeastern Ukraine. The Centre, created to help implement the Minsk Agreements, was established at the request of the Ukrainian side under agreements between the presidents of Russia and Ukraine. The centre includes representatives of the Ukrainian and Russian Armed Forces (75 officers who are rotated every three months). The centre included representatives of the self-proclaimed Donbass republics during the initial stage.
Since its inception, the JCCC has become an important mechanism for attaining a peace settlement in southeastern Ukraine and has played a substantial role in monitoring the situation and helping resolve contentious issues along the demarcation line between the parties in Donbass. Russian officers have made a weighty contribution to stabilising the regional situation and have provided practical assistance to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. On the whole, our international partners involved in the search for solutions to the Ukrainian crisis have a positive opinion of the centre’s work.
At the same time, the centre has, unfortunately, encountered serious difficulties, due to the position of the Ukrainian authorities. For example, Kiev flatly objected to any documentary regulation of the centre’s operations. Attempts to resolve this issue at the bilateral level, at the Minsk Contact Group or in the Normandy format have proven unsuccessful.
In violation of the agreement between the presidents of Russia and Ukraine on the centre’s establishment and deployment, the Ukrainian side has deliberately created a tense moral and psychological situation for the Russian service personnel involved in the centre’s work and has hampered the execution of their official duties. For example, Russian officers received limited access to the demarcation line and could not effectively monitor the work of personnel at joint observation points on Ukrainian-controlled territory. They were sometimes forbidden to contact the local population. In some cases, Ukrainian service personnel have acted disrespectfully towards their Russian counterparts.
From January 1, 2018, Kiev is planning to introduce a new procedure regarding the entry of Russian citizens to Ukraine and their stay in the country. Under this procedure, Russian citizens will have to disclose detailed personal information to Ukrainian authorities in advance. This runs counter to provisions of the January 16, 1997 agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of Ukraine on visa-free travel of Russian and Ukrainian Citizens and is unacceptable for Russian service personnel.
In our contacts with Ukraine within the Normandy format and the Minsk Contact Group, we have insisted on the need to resolve this issue without bias towards Russia’s involvement in the centre’s work. However, the Ukrainian side has ignored our requests.
Under these conditions, further work of the Russian Armed Forces’ mission at the Centre has become impossible. On December 19, 2017, the Russian officers working at the centre will leave the territory of Ukraine.
We have already notified our foreign partners about this forced measure, and we have noted that the Ukrainian side will assume complete responsibility for any possible consequences.