PRESS RELEASE ON SITUATION AROUND UKRAINE

AKP Phnom Penh, May 16, 2018 –

On 20th of April Russia’s Permanent Representative to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich issued the statement at the OSCE Permanent Council meeting on the situation in Ukraine and implementation of the Minsk Agreements:
It has been four years since Kiev started its punitive operation against the people of Donbass which is hypocritically called a counter-terrorist operation. Renaming it an ‘allied forces’ operation’ which, according to Petro Poroshenko, will begin on April 30 does not change its nature. In violation of the Ukrainian constitution, civilians are being attacked by the troops, paramilitary forces, foreign recruits and volunteer raiders.
The random attacks on residential areas that caused a huge number of casualties and massive destruction in the summer of 2014 still continue. Ukrainian security forces sabotaged the Eastern ceasefire despite the fact that on March 29, Normandy format leaders, including Petro Poroshenko, stressed the importance of strict compliance with the truce and confirmed their commitment to the Minsk Agreements.
On April 11, there were attacks on Donetsk and Staromikhailovka. Reportedly, 120-mm mortar guns firing from the northwest injured three civilians and damaged 23 buildings in Donetsk. Two civilians were injured and ten buildings were damaged in Staromikhailovka. On April 14, Yasinovataya was under attack, with two buildings damaged. Over the two weeks between April 4-18 alone, 14 civilians were injured, 70 residential buildings and five infrastructure facilities were damaged.
On April 17, the Ukrainian Armed Forces used the Special Monitoring Mission’s aerial footage to target equipment prepared in Lugansk for the Great Patriotic War Victory Parade. This is unacceptable.
On the same day, April 17, Donetsk Filtering Station service vehicles were attacked by precision fire from the western side of the road leading to the station (where the Ukrainian Armed Forces are positioned; their trench shelter is only 70 metres from the station). Five people sustained injuries of various degrees. The station has been halted and its staff evacuated. This is threatening water supply to over 600,000 people.
We expect that the station will resume operation as soon as possible provided the safety of its employees is guaranteed. We see the Special Monitoring Mission playing the key role in this measure. As long as the observers escorted the Donetsk Filtering Station staff, the Ukrainian personnel refrained from shelling.
The concentration of arms and military equipment on the contact line continues. Since the Easter ceasefire, in violation of the Package of Measures, the Special Monitoring Mission discovered more than 100 units of Ukraine’s equipment. The military equipment is located within the boundaries of residential areas. On April 13, the SMM spotted five howitzers 100 metres away from a residential area in the town of Vozrozhdeniye. Next day, they spotted a howitzer at the eastern border of Bogdanovka.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces’ creeping offensive continues. On April 15, observers spotted a combat reconnaissance patrol vehicle with four Ukrainian troops within the separation area near Zolotoy. Clearly, there is a risk of another Shirokino case which was occupied by the Ukrainians after demilitarisation. Before implementing the right ideas of creating safe areas around infrastructure facilities at the contact line, it is necessary to guarantee that they will not be taken over by the Ukrainian army.
There is a persistent landmine threat to observers and civilians in Donbass. It has been a year since the tragic explosion of an SMM vehicle near Prishib in the LPR that killed American paramedic Joseph Stone. The International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission concluded that, as British diplomats would put it, it is “highly likely” that it was the Ukrainian Armed Forces that planted the landmine and watched it detonate remotely.
Last week, the SMM found new minefields near Avdeyevka, Maryinka, Mayorsk and Lebedinsky. Kiev continues to strategically keep the SMM in the dark under the guise of landmine danger. The areas near Stanitsa Luganskaya, Zolotoy, Schastye and some others, controlled by the Ukrainian security forces, have long been closed to the observers. In the areas where the Ukrainian army conducted mine clearing operations, the SMM soon discovered more landmine barriers.
Kiev’s militaristic rhetoric is expanding. Before his US visit, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov took to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s official Facebook page to announce the return of Donbass by force “involving peacekeeping groups.” In case anyone here has forgotten, let me remind you that Section 9 of the Package of Measures lays out the process by which the government regains control over the border. It is conditioned on the overarching political settlement, the parameters of which are also specified in the Package of Measures.
Kiev is pretending that the Minsk Agreements have nothing to do with Ukraine. Once again, we urge the OSCE to analyse the so-called law on re-integration of Donbass and other pseudo-legal actions by Kiev for conformity with the Package of Measures.
It appears to us that Kiev benefits from dragging out the conflict. Officials are doing everything they can to bring the crisis settlement process to a deadlock. They are refusing to engage in a direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk. Yesterday, at a meeting of the Contact Group in Minsk, Ukraine once again sabotaged the discussion of political aspects of the settlement as the parties were outlining the agenda for a political subgroup meeting.
Kiev is bringing back the very causes that triggered the conflict in the first place. Persecution of the Russian language and culture, the Orthodox Church and journalists is increasing. It has been three years since the murder of Oles Buzina in Kiev. The crime has not been solved yet although the perpetrators were arrested shortly after. An Orthodox church in Herzen Street in Kiev was set on fire. It was the fifth arson at the church since 2013.
Nationalists continue to commit outrages as well. Last week, radicals tried to sabotage the flower-laying ceremony at the memorial to WWII heroes, General Nikolai Vatutin in Kiev and the Monument to the Unknown Sailor in Odessa.
The hypocrisy and double standards of the Western countries when it comes to the Ukrainian crisis is astounding. It was reported that ‘Ukrainian hero’ Nadezhda Savchenko went on a strict hunger strike in Ukrainian detention. This is, of course, Ukraine’s domestic issue but it is interesting for us to follow the fate of a person who was an ongoing topic of questions here. Now there is only silence.
We are closely watching developments around the Nord crew, Russian nationals still held captive by Ukraine.
In conclusion I would like to stress once again that there is no alternative to a comprehensive political settlement based on the Minsk Package of Measures and a direct dialogue between the parties to the internal Ukrainian conflict – Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk.
Donbass residents deserve a peaceful sky, a life without fear of nighttime shelling, access to water, electricity, a normal peaceful life without threat to their values, without fear of being subjected to torture, violence and looting by so-called Ukrainian patriots and special services.
The situation cannot be helped by hypocritical speechmaking about violations of international law, aggression and occupation coming from long-standing violators of international law who severed a part of Serbia, destroyed peace in Iraq and Libya and recently conducted another act of aggression against Syria, all under the pretext of another ‘Powell vial.’
If Western countries do want peace in Ukraine, it is in their power to use their significant political and financial influence on Kiev to enforce the Minsk Agreements.
On 23rd of April the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia commented on the annual report of the US Department of State on human rights practices in the world:
Like its previous reports, the annual report of the US Department of State on human rights practices in the world released on April 20 abounds in politicised assessments and crude ideological clichés.
Depending on its categorical assessments of the “level of democracy” the report presents some countries as the main violators of human rights and some as countries that have embarked on a road of improvement. The report cynically assesses human rights practices, up to and including direct verbal attacks against the national authorities of sovereign states. Russia was not surprised at this approach because it is in line with the US policy of double standards on human rights when Washington judges other states by their loyalty to Washington’s foreign policy course and its methods of defending democracy and human rights.
As for Russia, we must state with regret that Washington has yet to shed its Russophobic stereotypes. Thus, the section on Russia was written in a negative light a priori and without considering Russia’s repeated well-grounded explanations of its positions on specific issues of human rights in the domestic arena.
As before, the authors of the report do not stop at using tricks that form a persevering negative attitude towards Russia as “the main human rights violator.” To add weight to this precept Washington uses a routine package of accusations that is largely lifted from previous reports and the “facts” tailored to them.
There is one more indicative element: responsibility for degrading human rights practices in Ukraine is being shifted to Russia. Moreover, and we believe this is unacceptable for a report that claims to be objective, it continues to be silent on the large-scale and crude violations of human rights in Ukraine. Nor does it call on Kiev to improve these practices, including the investigations into the arson attack on the House of Trade Unions in Odessa, which led to many victims, and the sniper attacks on Kiev’s Maidan Square. They were frozen with US tacit approval (this is further confirmed by the contents of the report).
In the meantime, the poor record of the United States on human rights, democracy and the rule of law is not covered in the report. It ignores mounting system-wide problems, including deep-rooted racial discrimination, the unprecedented scope of xenophobia and activities by extremist organisations. There is impunity for the inhuman treatment and torture under the CIA’s special programmes or for the mass-scale tapping of personal communications in the US and beyond. The report does not mention many other large challenges in this area.
It is time for the US to seriously deal with these urgent problems at home and finally heed the numerous persistent recommendations of relevant inter-governmental agencies and human rights champions rather than try to lecture those who do not need to be lectured.
Press release on threats from Ukrainian authorities to Russian shipping from 28th of April:
The number of Russian vessels illegally detained by the Ukrainian authorities has recently increased. Just two weeks after the Ukrainian coast guard unlawfully seized the Russian fishing ship The Nord and illegally detained the crew on March 25, an arrest warrant was issued for a Trans Services Maritime vessel.
On April 25, 2018, the Ukrainian cabinet supported an initiative of the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine and issued an executive order on banning transit and shipping cargoes through the Ukrainian territory by vessels under the Russian flag or owned by persons registered in the Russian Federation, as well as any other vessels regardless of the flag they sail under, which had in the past entered seaports of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol.
With regard to these provocative actions by the Ukrainian authorities against Russian vessels and citizens of the Russian Federation, the Foreign Ministry draws attention of shipping companies to the real risks of pirate seizure of Russian vessels by the Ukrainian security agencies.
On the 10th of May Permanent Representative of Russia to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich issued the statement at the OSCE Permanent Council meeting on Ukraine and the need to implement the Minsk Agreements:
The “operation of the united forces” of the government and nationalist groups in Ukraine continues to bring new victims and destruction to Donbass. Kiev is continuing this course of sabotaging the Minsk Package of Measures starting with its first clause.
On May 3, the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) recorded over 1,200 explosions on the contact line. Donetsk residents told the observers that the shelling of the city had been ongoing for seven days. The ceasefire is not being observed in the area of the Donetsk Filtration Station and in all three sections of the disengagement of forces.
The SMM’s reports confirm that the Ukrainian Armed Forces are behind most of ceasefire violations. They do not spare anyone. They shot at a family with a child near the self-defence forces’ checkpoint in Yelenovka, and one person was wounded.
Due to shelling by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, two civilians were killed in Dokuchayevsk on April 26 – Anatoly Portnenko and Galina Portnenko; two buildings were burned and five were destroyed by direct artillery hits and two houses were partially damaged in Zaitsevo on April 25-26; a residential building was damaged in Sakhanka on April 24; a house was burned in Trudovskiye on April 23; a missile was fired at a truck carrying grain in Dokuchayevsk on April 23; a civilian, Anatoly Maskalets, was killed in Zaitsevo; a civilian was wounded in Dokuchayevsk on April 22; a house was partially destroyed and a power line was damaged in Kominternovo on April 18.
We remind the SMM that they should not worry about pressure from the receiving side. Information on the shelling of residential areas on both sides of the contact line should be promptly verified and included in reports. It is unacceptable to ignore the appeals from Donetsk and Lugansk representatives in such a situation. This contradicts the requirement of objective and impartial work by the observers.
The behaviour of the Ukrainian negotiators at the May 4 meeting of the Contact Group in Minsk was another indication that Kiev is not interested in a de-escalation of tensions. The Ukrainian side declined a proposal to agree on additional measures to enforce the ceasefire. A demand to offer written safety guarantees to the employees of the Donetsk Filtration Station was ignored. The Ukrainian Armed Forces would not issue orders on maintaining the ceasefire in that area. Everything suggests that Kiev is set for the armed seizure of the Donetsk Filtration Station. We call on the SMM to closely monitor the situation, and identify the perpetrators of the ceasefire violations. It is time to put an end to the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ lawlessness and bring to account those who fired at the bus carrying Donetsk Filtration Station employees on April 17.
Kiev is undermining the implementation of the Contact Group’s Framework Agreement on the disengagement of forces and equipment of September 21, 2016 – an agreement capable of relieving the tensions. The Ukrainian Armed Forces occupied disengagement areas in Zolotoye and Petrovskoye and are concentrating military hardware there. According to the SMM, there are Ukrainian Armed Forces’ bunkers, trenches, personnel and military hardware in Zolotoye. In Petrovskoye, the SMM discovered five military sites equipped with heavy machine guns and four shelters for mortar crews as well as over 100 antitank mines. On May 8, Kiev once again derailed the disengagement of forces in Stanitsa Luganskaya. The SMM has reported a number of times on the self-defence forces’ readiness to withdraw and the observance of the seven-day total ceasefire needed to start the disengagement.
There is an increasing concentration of Ukrainian military hardware at the contact line. Throughout the week of April 30 to May 7, in violation of Clause 2 of the Minsk Package of Measures, 55 pieces of equipment belonging to the Ukrainian Armed Forces were recorded, including multiple launch rocket systems in Konstantinovka, Topolinoye and Khlebodarovka, howitzers in Artyomovsk, Kremenevka and Konstantinovka.
Kiev’s revanchist rhetoric is being encouraged from abroad. On April 30, President Petr Poroshenko confirmed the delivery of Javelin anti-tank missile systems from the United States. Practical training of the crews to use them, according to Ukraine’s Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak, was to start on May 2.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces continue to hamper the Special Monitoring Mission’s drone operations. The Mission has confirmed that, on April 30, Ukrainian military fired at their drone in the vicinity of Katerinovka. The Mission’s drones continue to be jammed above areas controlled by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, including over Bogdanovka on May 1 and in Lomakino on May 3.
The political settlement process has become deadlocked. Kiev representatives are blocking the work of the Contact Group’s political subgroup. During the May 4 meeting in Minsk, the Ukrainian side once again refused to confirm the procedure for enacting the law on the special status under the Steinmeier formula, which links this process with local elections.
The law on the reintegration of Donbass has legalised the prosecution of persons connected with the developments in Donbass. During the latest meeting of the Contact Group, negotiators from Kiev once again dragged out the coordination of the process for exchanging detainees under the all-for-all principle.
The coordination of measures to resolve humanitarian issues in Donbass is being stalled. Kiev is hampering efforts to coordinate the procedure to repair a bridge in Stanitsa Luganskaya and is evading a comprehensive resolution as regards the opening of new checkpoints along the line of contact. Security forces are massing combat equipment in the vicinity of Zolotoye, and this is hampering the opening of this checkpoint contrary to the calls that have been voiced here.
We would like to thank members of the Special Monitoring Mission for helping resume operations of the telecommunications provider Vodafone in certain areas of the Donetsk Region. We hope that observers will continue to ensure local ceasefire regimes so that repairs can be conducted in other sectors of the line of contact.
Kiev’s sabotage of the Minsk Package of Measures is directly linked with the further degradation of the situation in the post-Maidan Ukraine. Radical nationalists are becoming more influential, and the degree of their influence is directly proportional to their confidence that they will be able to get away with their deeds. The culprits are running loose four years after people were burned alive inside the Odessa House of Trade Unions. Nikolai Kokhanovsky, the leader of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists, noted the need to replace the May 1 and May 9 holidays with May 2, when, in his words, Odessa’s Ukrainians had stopped the Russian spring. In effect, he suggested celebrating the mass burning of people inside the House of Trade Unions. The nationalists are burning Orthodox churches, cultural centres and are intimidating ethnic minorities. They are bragging about their crimes. Being aware that there will be no punishment, radicals from the C14 organisation posted photos on social networks showing a Roma camp that was set on fire on Lysaya Gora on April 19. Yesterday, nationalists attacked the head of the Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation in Kiev. Will the culprits be brought to justice?
So far, Ukrainian authorities have failed to uphold the law. Judges are not protected by the law, and police officers prefer not to deal with the radicals. In some cases, they even cooperate with them. The journalists have been intimidated. The population is being divided into the ideologically safe camp and the alleged separatists. The latter category includes everyone who disagrees with the official policies.
The sway of nationalism in Ukraine is becoming embarrassing even to Kiev’s main sponsor. A bipartisan group of 57 members of the US House of Representatives has recently sharply criticised the US Department of State for failure to react to the glorification of Nazism in Kiev and the accompanying rise in anti-Semitism in Ukraine. They urged the US administration to “use all available diplomatic channels to work with the Ukrainian government to combat the rise of this hateful ideology.” Has the State Department responded to this in any way?
Nationalism is being encouraged at the state level in Ukraine. Contrary to its international commitments, Kiev is waging an offensive against the minorities’ right to receive an education in their native tongues. I am referring to the so-called education reform in Ukraine, which includes a revision of education laws stipulating that the language of instruction at all schools must be Ukrainian, the official language, including for minorities.
A veritable hunt for Crimeans is underway in Ukraine. On April 23, Yelena Odnovol, head of the reginal branch of the Russian organisation Victory Volunteers, was detained at the Chongar checkpoint on the Russian-Ukrainian border on charges of organising subversive activities. Vladimir Gorbenko, captain of the Russian fishing vessel Nord is being kept hostage in Ukraine. His trial under fabricated charges is ongoing. He is prevented from returning to his home country. We demand that these Russian citizens be released immediately.
Many people in Ukraine refuse to join in the nationalist activities of radicals and neo-Nazis. They remain loyal to the universal human values. There is a wide gap between the schizophrenic statements made by Ukrainian leaders and the real sentiments of the people. The events held to mark Victory Day, including the Immortal Regiment march, have shown this convincingly. We admire the courage of those Ukrainians who took part in these events despite the tragedy in Odessa [on May 2, 2014] and the neo-Nazi atrocities in Mariupol on May 9, 2014, which we will never forget. They did this despite the threats to burn down the Inter television network for broadcasting the Victory Day concert and despite the fact that Kiev police sided with the nationalists. The police maltreated Yelena Berezhnaya, an organiser of the May 9 commemoration events, during her arrest. Valentina Solovyova and Olga Yuryeva, journalists from Russia’s Channel One and Rossiya television networks, have been deported from Ukraine. This is fresh evidence of the Ukrainian government’s fear of objective reporting.p
A political solution to the Ukrainian crisis and the preservation of the country’s territorial integrity are only possible through the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements, including the political provisions of the Minsk Package of Measures, and only through a direct dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. Radicals must be brought to their senses, and Kiev must demonstrate genuine readiness to settle internal problems through dialogue, acting in a civilised manner and showing tolerance for different opinions. If the Kiev authorities realise this, there will be hope for progress towards the settlement of this internal Ukrainian crisis.

Source: Embassy of the Russian Federation to the Kingdom of Cambodia

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