Russia again prevents expansion of OSCE Ukraine-Russia border checkpoint observation mission: Statement to the PC

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 the Russian Federation would not consider expanding the geographic scope of the Observer Mission, despite requests from other participating States that it do so.

We once again have to accept a limited-scope mission, covering just two border checkpoints—which account for approximately one kilometer of the 2,300 kilometer border between Russia and Ukraine.

We are concerned that due to Russia’s undue restrictions on its work, the Mission will be unable to ascertain the extent to which Russia is participating in or facilitating the flow of illegal arms, funding, and personnel to support the separatists it backs in eastern Ukraine, or to gather sufficient information that could indicate in any meaningful way the extent to which Russia is taking any action to stop that flow of support to the separatists.

We note that Step 4 of the September 5, 2014, Minsk Protocol delineates a clear role for the OSCE in monitoring and verification on both sides of the Ukrainian-Russian international border, and the creation of a security zone in the border areas of Russia and Ukraine.

There are strong linkages between ceasefire monitoring and border monitoring, and the OSCE approach to these activities must not be impeded by one participating State.

The Russian Federation has repeatedly prevented the expansion of this mandate to include other border checkpoints and monitoring between checkpoints and, in so doing, Russia raises serious questions about its commitment to implement critical elements of the Minsk Protocol.

Therefore, we call upon the Permanent Council to remain seized of the matter and to continue discussions with the aim of expanding the Mission sufficiently to permit a true accounting of the situation all along the Russian-Ukrainian border.

We also call upon the Russian Federation to provide, on an urgent basis, the proper protection, privileges, and immunities for the Observer Mission and observers operating on the Russian side of the border.

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

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer to the OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna | March 12, 2015