Remarks by Russian Permanent Representative to the OSCE Andrey Kelin at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna, January 29, 2015
By my count, we have held about 70 discussions related to the crisis in Ukraine during the Permanent Council meetings. However, very few honestly attempted to constructively discuss its true causes or to find ways to overcome it. Again, what we are hearing now are just empty accusations that Russia is engaging in some aggressive actions, whereas in fact we should be discussing the aggressive actions of the Ukrainian authorities against their own citizens living in Donbass.
Recent events have once again confirmed what we warned our colleagues about, including here at the OSCE Permanent Council. The ceasefire announced in the conflict zone in late December was used by Kiev to build up its offensive potential and prepare for another attempt to resolve the situation militarily.
Kiev has been preparing for war all this time without actually hiding its intentions. Forces and other assets, including heavy weapons, have been massed along the contact line. Several waves of mobilisation have been declared, and plans for excessive militarisation of the economy are being made.
We can now see the results, as the Ukrainian military structures commit to action considerable forces and increase the intensity of their shelling attacks on urban and rural areas, cynically referring to these criminal acts that kill the elderly, women and children as “the exercise of the right to self-defence.” According to the Joint Coordination and Oversight Centre, 29 civilians died and 57 were wounded from January 23-27 alone. On January 27, Lugansk and its suburbs came under rocket and artillery fire from the Ukrainian military. The Kievsky, Kuibyshevsky and Petrovsky districts of Donetsk, as well as Gorlovka and Yenakiyevo, also came under fire. Over the past 24 hours, 68 attacks on the civilian population were recorded. Neither Washington, nor London, let alone Ottawa, bothered to demand that the Ukrainian authorities stop these deadly actions.
Given all this, we do not see the slightest signs of Kiev’s willingness to stop the hostilities, to engage in dialogue with the opposing part of the population in eastern Ukraine, or to begin the process of political settlement and a comprehensive constitutional reform, on which many European countries, the UN Security Council, the Council of Europe and other international organisations insist.
The logic behind the actions of the Kiev leaders is clear. If the settlement process comes to replace the hostilities, how then will they be able to go about asking Western capitals for more money and weapons, or demanding to increase pressure on Russia to make it more accommodating? Hence, loud yelling about aggression and the mythical figures about the Russian military presence that is allegedly growing day in and day out. It’s impossible not to see that some recent tragic episodes are being deliberately used by Kiev to substantiate its requests and demands. That is what happened the other day during a NATO-Ukraine Commission meeting, at the Davos forum, and, most likely, will happen again today at a meeting of the Council of the European Union.
Once again, I’d like to point out that out of the 12 provisions of the Minsk Protocol, Kiev remembers only the one about monitoring of the border. For some reason, it tends to forget about all of its other obligations, in particular, the law on the special status of the region, amnesty, improvement of the humanitarian situation in Donbass and its reconstruction.
Now, with regard to Donbass. The Kiev authorities are ratcheting up the intensity of the measures to stifle the residents of Donbass, and have actually put them under siege. In addition to terminating payouts of social benefits to the people with entitlements, they are blocking the delivery of food, medicines and essential commodities to Donbass. All cargo is halted by volunteer battalions. As a matter of fact, there is only one supply line left, which is Russian humanitarian aid. But this is not enough for them, as they continue to destroy infrastructure, such as hospitals and water and power supply facilities. The UN humanitarian agencies, Doctors Without Borders and other NGOs are sounding the alarm and warning of an impending humanitarian catastrophe. We would like a clear answer to a simple question: Does Kiev believe that Donbass is part of Ukraine or not? If not, then many things become clear to us.
So far, the Ukrainian authorities are clearly trying to create unbearable conditions for the people residing in the areas that they don’t control. The number of refugees, which began to decline in late 2014, has sharply increased again. Many of them are fleeing to Russia again.
More and more people in Ukraine are beginning to realise where their war-obsessed leaders are pushing them, and refuse to be accomplices in the crimes against their own people. According to some sources, including Ukrainian ones, increasing numbers of young people are fleeing Ukraine in an attempt to dodge the draft.
Given all of the above, we would like to say the following to the representatives of those states with influence on the Ukrainian leadership, primarily, Washington. It is time to stop pandering to the Ukrainian party of war and its hawks, covering up their inhumane acts and emboldening them as they press ahead with hostilities in eastern Ukraine. This can lead only to major disaster.
We have a different approach. Despite the complexity of the situation, we are convinced that achieving peace and harmony in Ukraine is realistic, but must be based on an inclusive national dialogue. Clearly, the rights and interests of all regions and citizens, without exception, must be fully guaranteed. We support the continuation of work within the Minsk process, which must be largely based on direct contact between Kiev and Donetsk and Lugansk. It doesn’t matter which people will maintain these contacts. What matters is the authority and the ability to be accountable for the decisions that are made.
We hope that the discussions that started in Donetsk during preliminary consultations will continue and will address, in particular, topics such as establishing ceasefire, withdrawing artillery and missile systems from the dividing line, defining the boundary line and exchanging prisoners.