Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the Council of Europe

, Kyiv 21:33

Ukraine called on the Council of Europe member States to work together to make Russia fully implement the Minsk agreements

01 February 2017, 20:07

Statement by Sergiy Kyslytsya, Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine, at the 1276th meeting of the Committee of Ministers on 1 February 2017 on the deteriorating situation in Donbas

Mr Chairperson,

Dear Ambassadors,

At certain point in time, the Russian aggression in my country has somehow become an elephant in the room, if I may employ this metaphor recently used by Secretary General Jagland himself in reference to Ukraine. In fact, the war is ongoing and reminds of itself daily in the ugliest way – through deaths and sufferings of my fellow compatriots.

The facts concerning the most recent escalation are reflected in the statement of Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, distributed as official document of this CM meeting. Today, I would like to bring your attention to the following five fact-based points.

First, there is an evolving humanitarian crisis in and around Avdiivka and Yasynuvata. Ukrainian government, volunteers, and Red Cross are doing everything they can to help desperate people on the ground.

Second, attempts to provide this help are hindered by continued shelling and fire from terrorist-controlled territories with a wide use of heavy weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements. Ukraine's calls for a lasting ceasefire had been turned down for three consecutive days. The OSCE SMMs officially reported yesterday that “the so-called “DPR” is refusing to provide security guarantees necessary for patrolling in the Avdiivka-Yasynuvata area”.

Third, the attack on Avdiivka and Yasynuvata constitutes an unlawful and extensive destruction of property not justified by military necessity. Ukraine will add this crime to its recent application to the International Court of Justice against Russia.

Fourth, Russian officials and media have launched a propaganda operation to once again put the blame for the escalation on Ukraine. Manipulation, psychological pressure and fake news aim at distorting reality. We have seen this before. “Ukrainian soldier, your body will be found once the snow melts” - in Avdiivka, both civilians and servicemen, receive these SMS on their cell phones. It's the signature tactics of the Russian psychological warfare as the one used during the bloody offensive on Debaltseve exactly two years ago in January 2015. In that case, Russia was also accusing Ukraine of escalating the situation up until it captured the city. The same tactics of accusations was applied in Syria recently and in Georgian region of South Osetia in 2008.

And, finally, the fifth point: the Council of Europe alone cannot stop ongoing wars. Yet, it can and should make it crystal clear to the aggressor that its gross violations of human rights will not remain unpunished. Impunity leads to further crimes, and silence about the crimes makes them even uglier.

I would like to paraphrase the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, one of the greatest champions of human dignity. I used the same words addressing the UN General Assembly on 19 December last year, minutes before it voted in favor of the Resolution that defined Russia as an occupying power in Crimea: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Earlier today, Russian representatives in the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination have finally provided written guarantees of ceasefire to be held from noon till five o’clock. It effectively demonstrated who is in control over the actions of the terrorists. What’s vitally important is that those five hours of ceasefire would have allowed our emergency teams to start repairing critical infrastructure.

However, well before the deadline guaranteed by the Russian generals in the JCCC, a Ukrainian non-military emergency team was caught by fire just 300 meters away from the power transmission line it was about to repair.

Today, according to the media reports, spokesperson of President Putin, said that the escalation of fighting in Donbas creates ground for the intensification of the US-Russia dialogue. It’s almost as if we see the similar tactics of enforcing a dialogue between Kremlin and the White House at the cost of sufferings and death in eastern Ukraine.

If history is any lesson, let’s be realistic about Russia after three years of war and three latest days of heavy fighting. Let’s work together to make Russia fully implement the Minsk agreements.

I thank you, Mr Chairperson.

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