Right of Reply (2) to Russia on its ongoing violations in Ukraine: Statement to the PC

I’d just like to respond to three points that our distinguished Russian colleague just made.

First, on the observation mission at the two checkpoints along the many hundreds of kilometers that are not under the state control of Ukraine: I just want to point out that what needs to happen – the reason why the current situation is not sufficient – is two things: first, there is an international standard for delivering humanitarian assistance. The ICRC is the most commonly, not the only, but the most commonly used international organization whose standards and participation are depended upon in order for legitimate humanitarian assistance to be delivered and distributed. So, if the Russian Federation wants to clear up this situation, driving a bunch of trucks through with a cursory examination from the outside of the back of the truck is not clearing up anything. It is, in fact, adding to suspicion. The Russian Federation has failed now for almost a year to take the steps that would rise to the standard of complying with ICRC standards. And we will know when they are complying with ICRC standards, because the ICRC will express willingness to participate in the delivery and distribution of that assistance.

The second step Russia needs to take is to implement the commitment made back in September to have full international monitoring on the international border, so that there can be some confidence that there is not massive amounts of equipment, military materiel, and men going across at places other than the two, hundred-meter stretches that these two checkpoints represent.

So it’s two, clear steps that the Russians could take, and could take today if they wanted to, to remove the overwhelming suspicion that what they are telling us is not the truth – which is confirmed by the overwhelming evidence: proof of Russian participation on the territory of Ukraine.

Second, the point about ‘you have your view, we have ours.’ The difference is, first of all, that you are isolated. And second of all, that we don’t see those views as equivalent. I understand that you see those views as equivalent, as weaponized relativism is the tactic that you take. But the fact is you claim that there is no proof, when there is an overwhelming amount of proof behind the points that have been made. You don’t call it proof, because it doesn’t serve your interests. But we don’t draw equivalence there. I don’t expect you to agree with that, but I just want to be clear: to not answer things that we think are false that are put forward by the Russian Federation is irresponsible. We must answer every time you put forward a falsehood.

Third, I would just like to call colleagues’ attention to the fact that the distinguished delegate from the Russian Federation has just shown us that the Russian Federation feels it has the authority to decide who does and does not represent people in Donetsk. I was very careful about the way I worded my statement. I said that I thought it was factually untrue to say that there was nobody from that part of Ukraine in the constitutional commission. I think it is for the people of the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk that are currently under separatist control – it is for those people to decide who represents them, which is why they need to have the special local elections in those territories, so those people can freely and fairly choose people to represent them in political processes. But I don’t think it’s the Russian Federation’s job to decide who does and does not represent that area of Ukraine.

Thank you.

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