Right of Reply to Russia (1) on its Ongoing Violations in Ukraine: Statement to the PC

I’d like to respond to some of the comments made by the distinguished colleague of the Russian Federation.

First, I want to take the comment that he offered at the top that he was concerned that our deliberations here resembled an American talk-show. I am not sure whether colleagues find that an insult to participants of American talk-shows, but I would say better an American talk-show than a Supreme Soviet. On a more serious note, I think this is an important point. Russia’s violations of international law and its OSCE commitments are a legitimate topic for us to discuss, especially because Russia continues to present such a radically different perception of what it calls “facts” than the rest of the international community. And we do no service for peace and security in the OSCE region by papering over, or pretending away, that division. It is regrettable, but for as long as Russia fails to recognize the wrongs it has done and continues to do, it is the only responsible course for us to continue to raise – with the due respect that our Russian colleagues deserve – the differences that we have with the Russian Federation.

Second point: reference was made to the meeting between Secretary Kerry and President Putin, where our Russian colleague said that President Putin had told the Secretary that there were no Russian forces in Ukraine. Secretary Kerry made clear that we know that that is not true. He told him, and showed him, that we know that that is not true. And the Russian Federation needs to get out of Ukraine, in line with its commitments at Minsk. Where they did agree was that the Tri-lateral Contact Group and its Working Groups needed to work as quickly as possible, and as effectively as possible, to try to reach solutions that would change the situation on the ground for the better.

Third, the constitutional process was raised by our distinguished Russian colleague. First of all, I would point out that certain parties within the separatist-controlled areas in Donetsk and Lugansk have put out publicly their notions for constitutional revision. In the Working Group on political process they should discuss how they can participate, rather than get left behind. I would make a point of fact that I think our distinguished Russian colleague was wrong when he said that there aren’t any people who are from the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk under separatist control who are participating in the constitutional commission – I think that’s factually false.

We agree on the need for the work to go forward in the Working Groups as urgently as possible. But we can’t let that be a distraction from the situation on the ground. And that’s my fourth point: the problem that we were discussing today is that the situation on the ground – including the report on the capture of the two soldiers, as well as the spread of fighting – continues to suggest that Russia is saying one thing and doing another. It tests the credibility of Russia’s leadership and it makes it difficult to reach peace on the ground. So the call continues to be for Russia to match its words with action.

Here’s my fifth point: I agree with our Russian colleague – all signatories must implement the agreements they made at Minsk. I have multiple times, in this forum, called for Ukraine to ensure that the SMM has full unfettered access in the government-controlled territory. We have multiple times called for Ukraine to make sure that it is doing what it committed to do in terms of pulling back weapons and observing a ceasefire. We have also multiple times made clear that the violations, the limitations on access are hugely bigger on the separatist side of the line. And we can look at where the ceasefire violations are happening, and see that they are happening on the government-controlled side of the line, and that shows that they are hugely tilted in emanating from the direction of the separatists. So I agree that all need to implement their commitments at Minsk. We also need to be clear that one side is failing overwhelmingly to do so.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer to the OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna