Interpretive Statement on the Border Observation Mission in Ukraine

A close-up of pins in a map showing the locations of the two border checkpoints on the Russia-Ukraine border to which Russia limits OSCE observation of its border with Ukraine. (USOSCE/Colin Peters)

Interpretive Statement on the Border Observation Mission in Ukraine

As delivered by Ambassador James S. Gilmore III
to the Permanent Council, Vienna
September 3, 2020

In connection with the adoption of the Decision for the Extension of Deployment of OSCE Observers to Two Russian Checkpoints on the Russian-Ukrainian Border, the United States would like to make the following interpretative statement under paragraph IV.1(A)6 of the OSCE Rules of Procedure:

The United States finds it deeply regrettable that Russia continues to block the expansion of the geographic scope of the Observer Mission, despite the clear, strong, and continued support from other participating States to do so. We once again must accept an inadequate, limited-scope mission covering just two border checkpoints, which together account for only a few hundred meters of the 2,300 kilometer Ukrainian-Russian border, much of which Ukraine does not control.

Due to Russia’s unwarranted restrictions of the border Observer Mission’s work, the Mission fails to ascertain the full extent to which Russia participates in or facilitates the flow of arms, funding, and personnel to support its proxies in eastern Ukraine.

We note that Point IV of the Minsk Protocol delineates a clear role for the OSCE to monitor and verify both sides of the Ukrainian-Russian international border, and to create a security zone in the border areas of Russia and Ukraine. There are strong linkages between ceasefire monitoring and border monitoring, and it is to the detriment of all efforts to resolve the conflict that the OSCE approach to these activities has been impeded by one participating State. Russia’s repeated refusal to allow expansion of the scope of this mission demonstrates, regrettably, once again, Moscow’s unwillingness to take its Minsk commitments seriously.

Mr. Chair, I request that this interpretative statement be attached to the decision and to the Journal of the Day.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.