Response to the Chief of the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine

As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer to the Permanent Council, Vienna | November 3, 2014

The United States warmly welcomes Ambassador Apakan back to the Permanent Council and thanks him for his report on a Mission that has become the hallmark of the OSCE’s role in addressing the current crisis in European security. The swift deployment of the Mission relied largely on your team’s tireless efforts and unwavering commitment to execute the mandate of the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM). We thank the entire SMM team for its professionalism, and hope that you will take our thanks back to Kyiv and share it with team leaders and team members deployed in the field.

Ambassador Apakan, since your last appearance at the Permanent Council, your team has been instrumental in monitoring the implementation of the provisions of the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum throughout an area that is fraught with violence and challenging circumstances. We applaud the operational flexibility you have shown to address unfolding needs and shift more monitors to the east and undertake one of the SMM’s most critical roles yet: monitoring the ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists and their Russian military allies. The Special Monitoring Mission’s unarmed civilian monitors need a permissive environment in which to operate. The current environment, marred by ongoing attacks by Russia-backed separatists, is not permissive and we applaud the SMM for what it has done to monitor the situation under these circumstances. Simply put, the Special Monitoring Mission can only help to implement political solutions; it cannot on its own solve the larger political or military problems.

We remain concerned by ceasefire violations and continued
breaches of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty

We remain concerned by the ongoing violations of the ceasefire and the continued breaches of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty by Russia and the separatists it supports. These acts have threatened the safety of SMM personnel and prevented them from the complete fulfilment of the Mission’s mandate. One week ago, a checkpoint commander from the self-styled “Donetsk People’s Republic” prevented the SMM from visiting the city center of Telmanove. This is unacceptable. We reiterate our call for the safe and unfettered access of SMM monitors throughout all of Ukraine, including Crimea. We also call for the SMM to be allowed to monitor unimpeded the Ukrainian-Russian international border as called for in the Minsk agreements.

Ambassador Apakan, we appreciate your detailed reports on the activities of the Joint Center for Control and Coordination (JCCC). We know that you have taken steps to protest the unauthorized use of the OSCE brand and we remain concerned that JCCC personnel misrepresent themselves as an OSCE mission, in the process obstructing the work of the real SMM, fomenting public confusion about the nature of the SMM, and endangering real SMM personnel. We call on all relevant authorities to exert the necessary influence to prevent JCCC personnel from using OSCE insignia, patrolling in SMM vehicles, or subjecting SMM personnel to JCCC instructions. In September we voiced concern over reports that two armed persons that were not part of the SMM were transported in an OSCE vehicle. We acknowledge that the SMM issued a public statement saying that measures would be taken to prevent such a regrettable incident from occurring again. We thank the SMM leadership for its diligent efforts to preserve the integrity of the Mission.

Ambassador Apakan, throughout the tenure of Special Monitoring Mission, we have supported your work in various ways and we will continue to do so. As of today, the United States has deployed 29 monitors to the SMM. We responded to the OSCE Secretariat’s latest vacancy announcement by putting forward an additional 74 nominees with relevant expertise who are ready to deploy immediately. We have also endeavored to support the efforts to bolster the headquarters. In addition to providing monitors and personnel, the United States has contributed $3 million for the SMM’s operating costs. We are prepared to contribute an additional $2 million, as the mission scales up to its full complement of 500 observers.

We call again on all participating States to provide the substantial financial and personnel resources for the SMM

Today, we are pleased to announce that the United States will provide $1 million to address the SMM’s most critical needs – emergency medical and communications equipment, and other costs associated with deploying additional monitors to eastern Ukraine. While this significant contribution will assist the SMM, we recognize that there will still be a significant funding gap preventing the Mission from reaching its full complement of 500 monitors. Therefore, we call again on all participating States to provide the substantial financial and personnel resources, including the payment of assessed contributions, needed to ensure the success of this Mission.

On that note, we welcome the offers made by several participating States to provide UAVs and support personnel to assist the SMM in its efforts to monitor the current ceasefire. We suggest that the quickest way to go forward with these deployments is for the participating States to work out the details bilaterally with Ukraine. There is no need for any action by the PC. We also look forward to the OSCE-contracted UAVs becoming fully operational. Yesterday, the SMM reported that anti-aircraft rounds were fired at one of its UAVs. Given the location of the incident, it was clear that this was done by Russia-backed separatists. We strongly condemn this action intended to limit the SMM’s monitoring capabilities, and call upon the Russian Federation to use its influence with the separatists to allow the SMM to fulfill its mandate.

Ambassador Apakan, we urge you to continue making known to us the SMM’s needs, and to do so in close coordination with the Secretariat, so that participating States do not receive different messages on resource requirements. Similarly, we urge the Secretariat to delineate funding gaps clearly and describe their operational impact, so that participating States can better respond to the SMM’s requirements.

Ambassador Apakan, we thank you and your team for your hard work, courage, determination, and unwavering commitment to the OSCE and its fundamental principles.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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