Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich speaks at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on the situation in Ukraine and the need to implement the Minsk agreements, Vienna, July 13, 2017
The situation regarding the implementation of the Minsk agreements remains quite unsatisfactory. Despite some positive moments – for example, the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) did not record any explosions in the Lugansk Region last weekend – the complete ceasefire that Kiev promised to observe during the harvest season remains a distant prospect. Shelling resumed after the weekend.
SMM reports tracked the sequence of shooting exchanges in one of the hot spots, near Avdeyevka. Kiev security forces were the first to open fire on July 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.
Kiev forces continue the non-stop shelling of towns under the Donbass militia’s control. Every day, we hear reports about damaged or destroyed residential buildings. On July 10, three houses were destroyed on Zelyony Gai and Karnavalnaya Streets in the village of Trudovskiye. Four houses were damaged on Polevaya and Lenin Streets in Dokuchayevsk.
The Ukrainian armed forces continued moving their heavy arms towards the contact line. The SMM recorded a disguised Uragan self-propelled multiple launch rocket system in Mirolubovka on July 5. They also spotted a group of 13 howitzers and self-propelled guns there, including a powerful Pion self-propelled gun.
We need to take effective measures that will result in a real ceasefire on the contact line. Unfortunately, certain statements to the effect that Moscow should take the first steps only put off this prospect. It is not Russia or the self-defence forces who are shelling Donetsk and Gorlovka. And even Kiev does not believe the misleading reports about “self-shelling.”
This approach makes the Ukrainian authorities feel inculpable, as they continue to set forth additional conditions, which were not included in the Minsk Package of Measures, for a substantive dialogue on implementing the political aspects of the conflict settlement.
In this context, we have been closely following debates in Ukraine on the new draft law on Donbass “reintegration.” We are concerned that this document might contradict the Minsk agreements, call into question local elections in Donbass and undermine the enforcement of the laws on the area’s special status and the amnesty. It is equally alarming that the new initiative is being discussed amid intensified warlike rhetoric and threats to use force.
However, we have to move on and get over this stalemate in the implementation of the Minsk agreements. This can only be done by intensifying and raising the efficiency of the direct dialogue between Kiev and Donetsk and Lugansk within the Contact Group. We expect the July 13 meeting to bring some result in this area.
The talk about “hybrid military forces” is yet another attempt at wishful thinking. Such statements will be made as long as there is the demand for presenting Russia as the enemy, even though Ukrainian officials themselves, for example Deputy Minister of Ukraine for Temporarily Occupied Territories Georgy Tuka, complain that over the past three years they have not collected any legal proof of the presence of the regular Russian army in Donbass.
They need these statements to justify their policy aimed at severing the still strong family, historical, cultural, trade and economic ties between the Ukrainian and Russian people.
Every week we hear increasingly strange news about Kiev’s measures taken to promote hostility. Additional measures are being prepared to complicate travel to Ukraine for Russians. We will have to react to this, of course.
They continue to squeeze the Russian language out of all socio-political spheres of life. The Ukrainian security services are heaping pressure on one more public organisation, the Russian Culture Centre of the Sumy Region.
The latest incredible initiative is a ban on the Russian animated film series, Masha and the Bear.
Ukrainian representatives regularly talk about Russia’s alleged intention to destroy the Ukrainian state. This is not true. Just like Ukraine’s other neighbours, Russia wants to see a stable and strong state on its borders, a state that is not ailing with the virus of strife, neo-Nazism and Russophobia. So far, nobody has done more for the degradation of the Ukrainian state than the masterminds and organisers of the Maidan coup.
The more they encourage the rise of nationalism, the more difficult it will become to rebuild the country and to reconcile the divided society. So far, the OSCE prefers to keep silent about the glorification of Bandera and Shukhevich, who masterminded Jewish pogroms, the Volyn massacre and other grave crimes.
In conclusion, I would like to remind you that the implementation of the Minsk Agreements will be the first step towards overcoming the crisis in Ukraine. There is no alternative to this. We hope that our Ukrainian and Western colleagues will eventually come to realise the necessity of the implementation of these agreements and will do so before the price, which the Ukrainian people are paying, becomes too high. Meanwhile, we will continue to work towards this goal using all available formats.