RE: Peaceful Settlement to Conflict in Ukraine,  Sovereignty, Territorial Integrity of Crimea, Donbas Region


  1. MONA JUUL (Norway) on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Sweden
  2. JOÃO PEDRO VALE DE ALMEIDA, Permanent Observer for the European Union
  4. LEMBIT UIBO (Estonia)
  5. AUDRA PLEPYTĖ (Lithuania)
  6. MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia)
  9. MARIE CHATARDOVÁ (Czech Republic)
  13. DARJA BAVDAŽ-KURET (Slovenia)
  14. KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom)
  17. JEROEN COOREMAN (Belgium)

Statements from Speakers from the EU

  1. MONA JUUL (Norway), also speaking on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden, said that five years have passed since the start of the Russian Federation’s violation of international law in Ukraine.  The violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity began with the illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol.  Then followed the destabilization of eastern Ukraine, leading to the illegal declaration of independence of the so‑called “people’s republics”.  The Russian Federation has extended its illegal annexation of Crimea by militarizing the peninsula, building the Kerch Strait bridge and gradually imposing unilateral control of the Strait. She expressed concern about the deterioration of the human rights situation in Crimea, including pressure and detentions on dubious charges of human rights defenders, journalists and minorities, particularly Crimean Tatars.  The conflict in eastern Ukraine has resulted in the death of an estimated 13,000 people and the displacement of millions.  Regrettably, the implementation of the Minsk agreements is not moving forward.  The humanitarian situation is dire due to shelling, mining, disrupted utilities and lamentable conditions at crossing points on the contact line.  Parties should allow unhindered access for humanitarian actors in line with international humanitarian law.
  2. JOÃO PEDRO VALE DE ALMEIDA, Permanent Observer for the European Union, condemned the illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by the Russian Federation, which remains a clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.  He expressed concern about the ongoing militarization of the Crimean Peninsula and the Black and Azov seas.  Since the illegal annexation, the human rights situation has severely deteriorated.  Residents of the peninsula face systematic restrictions of fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of expression, religion or belief and the right to peaceful assembly.  The rights of Crimean Tatars have been gravely violated through the shutting down of Crimean Tatar media outlets, the banning of the activities of the Mejlis — their self‑governing body — and the persecution of its leaders and members of the Crimean Tatar community. The situation in the Azov Sea also remains high on the agenda of the European Union, he said, expressing concern about the dangerous increase of tensions in the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait.  He reiterated the European Union’s call for all sides to swiftly and fully implement the Minsk agreements and honour their commitments in full, to achieve a sustainable political solution to the conflict in line with Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) principles and commitments.  The Russian Federation should fully assume its responsibility in this regard and use its considerable influence over the armed formations it backs to meet the Minsk commitments in full.  Respect for these principles and commitments must be restored, he said.
  3. BARTOSZ CICHOCKI (Poland) said that the situation in eastern Ukraine remains highly volatile and still poses a threat to international peace and security.  He proposed a two-pronged approach to address the matter.  The Russian Federation must conform to the Minsk agreements and withdraw its armed formations and weapon systems from the sovereign Ukrainian territory.  The United Nations should not cease to look for fresh ideas that could break the political deadlock and create new opportunities for immediately improving the situation on the ground.  A full-fledged United Nations-mandated peacekeeping mission deployed to the conflict zone is one such idea.  The Organization could at least initiate the process by sending a fact‑finding mission to Ukraine.  Poland, as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, is ready to facilitate this endeavour.
  4. LEMBIT UIBO (Estonia), associating himself with the European Union, urged the Russian Federation to stop its aggression and illegal occupation of Ukraine’s territory.  Respect for territorial integrity and the prohibition of the use of force are fundamental principles of international law.  These two principles are clearly stated in the Charter of the United Nations, he recalled.  Estonia will never recognize the illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by the Russian Federation, he stressed, expressing concern for Moscow’s “ongoing disregard” for Ukraine’s sovereignty.  Ukrainian servicemen should be immediately released and the freedom of navigation in the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov restored.  He also expressed concern over the Russian Federation’s continuous steps towards the complete militarization of the Crimean Peninsula and the human rights violations it perpetrates there.  Three and a half million Ukrainians need humanitarian assistance and 13,000 have been killed since the crisis began.  Russia should fulfil its Minsk commitments, stop hostilities and withdraw its armed formations and military equipment from eastern Ukraine, he stressed.
  5. AUDRA PLEPYTĖ (Lithuania), associating herself with the European Union, said that respect for international law by all countries is vital to maintaining international peace and security.  Unfortunately, five years of conflict in Ukraine is a history of blunt neglect and violations of international law and the Charter of the United Nations.  The annexation of Crimea shakes the very basis of the international legal order.  The role of the Russian Federation and its continuous violations of the territorial integrity of Ukraine cannot be underestimated, while the conflict was initiated, and remains orchestrated and financed, by Moscow.  The full and swift implementation of the Minsk agreements by all parties is a central precondition to achieving a lasting solution to this deadly conflict, she said.
  6. MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, reconfirmed Ukraine’s sovereignty over the Crimean Peninsula and Ukraine’s absolute right to have full access to the Sea of Azov, as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  As Chair of OSCE, Slovakia is engaged in reducing tension, building trust and facilitating dialogue between both sides of the crisis.  He added that the only way to achieve a peaceful resolution is through full and comprehensive implementation of the Minsk agreements by all sides.  Those who remain in the conflict-affected territories struggle day in, day out to get by, he said.  There is also an urgent need to scale up efforts to alleviate the suffering of civilians caught in the middle.  Specific measures to improve the living conditions of people must be pursued, he stressed, adding that, last month, his country donated 24 tons of humanitarian aid to the Luhansk Regional Children’s Hospital in Lysychansk.
  7. MARIA ANGELA ZAPPIA (Italy), associating herself with the European Union, expressed concern about the crisis in Ukraine.  She underscored Italy’s 2018 OSCE Chairmanship, noting it had taken full advantage of the platform for dialogue afforded by that body.  Her country condemned and did not recognize the illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and urged that international humanitarian and human rights laws be fully respected.  Human rights observers and humanitarian actors should be granted full and unhindered access.  Italy remains committed to a political solution based on the Minsk agreements.  She urged all sides to show a genuine commitment and political will to allow momentum to be regained, noting there was no alternative to the Minsk agreements.
  8. ANDREJS PILDEGOVIČS (Latvia) said that five years have passed since the Russian Federation illegally annexed Crimea.  This violation of international law must not become a silent reality, nor should the Russian Federation’s covert and overt actions in the eastern part of Ukraine become “business as usual”.  Those Crimean people who are affected by the Russian Federation’s repressive policies must be supported and they need to hear that the international community has not forgotten Crimea.  The most vulnerable group continues to be the Crimean Tatars, whose history is fraught with suffering and persecution.  He expressed alarm over reports of torture, enforced disappearances and suspected killings, as well as continuous violations of the freedom of expression, freedom of religion and media freedom.  Latvia strongly condemns discrimination against Crimean Tatars.  He called on the authorities of the Russian Federation, as the occupying Power in Crimea, to end all human rights violations.
  9. MARIE CHATARDOVÁ (Czech Republic), associating herself with the European Union, said that the occupation of Crimea, as well as military engagement in eastern Ukraine by the Russian Federation, is a breach of international law.  Moscow must be reminded that it bears special responsibility for the resolution of this conflict and restoration of peace and security on the European continent.  She expressed deep concern for the human rights situation in Crimea and over the systematic human rights abuses by the de facto authorities targeting Crimean Tatars.  She urged the Russian Federation’s de facto authorities to grant access for the international human rights observers to the occupied Peninsula and urged the immediate release of Oleg Sentsov, Stanislav Klykh and other Ukrainian citizens whose trials in the Russian Federation are apparently in breach of international law and elementary standards of justice.  She also expressed concern over the escalation of tensions in the Sea of Azov and Kerch Strait, calling on Moscow to release Ukraine’s crewmembers who have been illegally detained since November 2018.  Both sides must focus on solving the eastern Ukraine situation peacefully by meeting the commitments of the Minsk agreements.
  10. GEORGI VELIKOV PANAYOTOV (Bulgaria), associating himself with the European Union, said that his country has been consistently supporting a peaceful settlement of the crisis in eastern Ukraine.  The full implementation of the Minsk agreements remains the only viable and internationally recognized option to this end.  The necessary political will should be exercised so that the ceasefire efforts can hold and pave the way for progress on issues of a political, economic and humanitarian nature, he said.  As a Black Sea littoral State, Bulgaria shares the concerns about the ongoing militarization of the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov.  This, together with the militarization of the Crimean Peninsula, has a severe negative impact on the security situation in the Black Sea region and beyond.  Bulgaria has been an active contributor to the efforts aimed at resolving the crisis and alleviating its consequences.  It has contributed to the OSCE tool‑box, including with personnel in its Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.
  11. CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany), associating himself with the European Union, recalled that, in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in return for a guarantee from the Russian Federation of Ukraine’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity.  Moscow’s violation of that agreement was a grave setback for international law, he stressed, asking what example that sets for other nations considering abandoning their nuclear weapons programmes.  “You cannot just breach international law and get away with it,” he stressed, calling on the Russian Federation to immediately release the Ukrainian servicemen taken captive during a recent incident in the Sea of Azov.  Calling for the full implementation of the Minsk agreements — in the framework of the Normandy format — he also expressed Germany’s support for the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, as well as its readiness to further explore the possible deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force.
  12. KAREL JAN GUSTAAF VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands) said that, as Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reports clearly show, the human rights situation in Russian Federation occupied Crimean Peninsula and the non-Government-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine remain deeply concerning.  He called upon the Russian Federation to respect human rights on the Crimean Peninsula and to allow full access of human rights monitors.  The Ukrainian reform process is suffering from the ongoing conflict.  Ukraine has embarked on an ambitious and challenging path towards reforming its economy and society, he said.  The progress that has been made is admirable.  However, the conflict has put pressure on Ukraine’s economy, on its institutions and on its reform process.  A clear example is the economic damage inflicted by the restrictions placed on shipping in the Sea of Azov by the Russian Federation since early 2018.
  13. DARJA BAVDAŽ-KURET (Slovenia), associating herself with the European Union, said her country does not recognize the illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.  Moreover, the annexation poses serious challenges to the security and stability of the wider region, she emphasized.  The repeated ceasefire violations, accumulation of heavy weapons and dire humanitarian situation in the conflict zone are of grave concern for Slovenia.  Measures aimed at the protection of the local population are of paramount importance.  Civilian infrastructure must be safeguarded, and aid must be delivered those in need.  She called on all sides to swiftly and fully implement all obligations committed to in the Minsk agreements.  “We also find it unacceptable that the OSCE [Special Monitoring Mission] continues to face major restrictions in the territories controlled by the Ukrainian Government,” she added.  For its part, Slovenia will continue to offer medial and psychosocial rehabilitation to children in conflict areas.
  14. KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom) said that today marks the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Russian Federation’s operation to illegally annex Crimea from Ukraine.  The forcible Russian seizure of 10,000 square miles from Ukraine broke the first principle of international law and violated several international agreements and commitments including Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations.  In another context, the representative of Germany, speaking in the Security Council, said that, to listen to the account of Moscow on the matter, you would think it was Ukraine that invaded the Russian Federation and not the other way around.  She also underscored the serious human rights violations that the Russian Federation continues to commit in the Peninsula.  In detention centres, victims have been mistreated and tortured, to punish or exhort confessions.  The Russian Federation continues to ignore calls for the High Commissioner on Human Rights to visit Crimea.
  15. VLADIMIR DROBNJAK (Croatia) expressed concern with the dangerous increase of tensions in the region, which led to the incident around the Kerch Strait and the Crimean Peninsula in 2018.  The use of force by the Russian Federation is unacceptable and without justification, especially in the context of increasing militarization in the area.  He called on Moscow to release the seized Ukrainian vessels and their crews unconditionally and without delay.  The conflict in eastern Ukraine continues to pose a serious threat to international peace and security.  It is important to reiterate that this is not a frozen conflict, but one in which people are being killed on an almost daily basis.  The Minsk process and the full implementation of the Minsk agreements remains the key to achieve a sustainable, peaceful and comprehensive political solution.
  16. FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France), associating himself with the European Union, said that, despite the guarantees provided by the Russian Federation when the Budapest memorandum was signed regarding the recognition of the sovereign territory of Ukraine, it has brazenly violated its obligations.  This is a source of worrisome tensions.  Following the serious naval incident that occurred on 25 November 2018, it is necessary that vessels be assured of safe and unobstructed passage in accordance with international law.  The illegal annexation of Crimea has led to serious violations of the human rights of the people living in this territory.  There have been extrajudicial killings, as well as enforced disappearances, he said.  The Russian Federation should put an end to policies that are aimed at terrorizing anyone who speaks out against the annexation of Crimea.  He called upon Moscow to fulfil its international obligations and commitments and to respect the sovereignty of Ukraine within its recognized borders.
  17. JEROEN COOREMAN (Belgium), associating himself with the European Union, said that his country did not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, as it runs counter to international law and is a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.  Today marks five years since this illegal annexation and five years of conflict in eastern Ukraine.  During this time, more than 10,000 people have lost their lives and more than 1.5 million people have left the region.  The Minsk agreements remain the only way to end the conflict, he said, calling on all parties to implement them and honour their commitments.  The Russian Federation should stop fueling the conflict by providing support to armed formations.  He regretted the obstacles to the work of the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, as it played a special role in reducing tensions.  The Mission should be allowed safe and unimpeded access to the entire territory of Ukraine, including Crimea.

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