Right of Reply to the Russian Federation on “Ukraine’s Lack of Compliance with Minsk”

As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer to the Permanent Council, Vienna | November 6, 2014

Today’s current issue raised by the Russian Federation is again a source of great disappointment, because it once again underscores the parallel reality in which the Russian Federation is apparently living. Even the title of today’s current issue [“Ukraine’s lack of compliance with Minsk”] just shows how little the Russian Federation understands that the rest of the world sees clearly that there is a need for implementation of the Minsk Protocol, first and foremost by the Russian Federation and its proxies. The substance of today’s intervention was a continuation of what we’ve heard before, which is a kind of strange projection, where Russia accuses others of its own wrongs. It’s not factual, and it’s disappointing.

But rather than dwell on what we disagree on, I’d like to talk about what we agree on, because what I heard in the Russian intervention was that there was an agreement – in fact a request of all of us – to stay focused on implementing the Minsk Protocol. The Minsk Protocol includes, as the Russian Federation and others have highlighted, provisions with respect to a ceasefire. It includes returning the international border to the sovereign control of Ukraine, with monitoring by the OSCE. It includes the removal of Russian arms, or foreign arms, and fighters from Ukraine. It includes the return of hostages. It also includes rebuilding economically – economic issues, as the Russian Federation highlighted.  Obviously it’s very hard to make progress on reconstruction when the destruction is still continuing. And obviously there will have to be across Ukraine – the Ukrainian people have chosen a reform agenda, a reform government – and there is going to have to be engagement and dialogue with civil society in all parts of Ukraine.

Rather than litigate who has done what to implement the Minsk Protocol, I’d like to highlight what the Russian Federation could do to demonstrate that it is in good faith desirous of seeing the Minsk Protocol implemented. It could make a public statement calling for support for the OSCE and the Ukrainian border guards returning to the border guard posts on the Ukrainian side of the Ukraine-Russia border. It could support the expansion of the observer mission on the Russian side of the border, as a measure to give more assurance on the Russian side of the border, as was foreseen in Minsk. It could withdraw its forces. It could withdraw the heavy weapons. It could release the hostages, at least two of whom we and others have mentioned today [Nadia Savchenko and Oleg Sentsov] and are under the control of the Russian Federation, not of any other groups. It could work faithfully in the trilateral contact group to implement all of those steps.

Any of those public statements or actions would be a sign of good faith. So as we look to the future, if we take at least from the title of today’s current issue that the Russian Federation has concern for the implementation of the Minsk Protocol and agreement, then those would be steps that would begin to show in a more convincing way the sincerity of the Russian Federation’s perspective.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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