The Ukrainian side has consistently complied with the Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014 and the Minsk Memorandum of September 19, 2014. In particular, we have twice initiated the ceasefire and unilaterally adhered to it. Due to incompliance of terrorists to the ceasefire regime, over this period Ukraine has lost 237 military and at least 148 civilians.
Despite being signatories of the Minsk agreements, the Russian side and Russia-backed terrorists have continuously and brutally violated their provisions. Instead of their full and bona fide implementation, the Russian side has invested all its efforts into buying time through “process for the sake of process” consultations, aimed at undermining the essence and revision of the Minsk agreements. At the same time, the RF has been continuing the massive military build-up in Donbas.
Since September 2014 with Russia’s backing and in breach of the Minsk arrangements the illegal armed groups have occupied over 550 km2.
Contrary to the introduced ceasefire regime, the shelling of Ukrainian positions has significantly increased. In particular, over the last 10 days only, number of shelling have surpassed last month statistics.
On January 13, 2015 the terrorists shelled a civilian bus near Volnovakha with a GRAD system. As a result, 13 civilians were killed and 15 wounded. Ongoing investigation of this tragic terrorist attack against civilians and relevant conclusions of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission prove that the shelling was carried out from the north-north-east areas currently occupied by the illegal armed group.
Since signing of the Minsk agreements in September 2014 the Russian side has significantly mounted its military presence in Donbas (over 8,000 Russian regulars, 180 tanks, 570 APC, over 140 artillery systems, over 70 GRAD systems etc.) and overflown the region with most sophisticated heavy weapons (including deadly TOS-1 Buratino systems). Recently, the terrorists announced that they created their “air forces”. We presume that this may be a maneuver to cover up the following deployment and use of the Russian military aircrafts in action.
Build-up of the Russian troops at the border with Ukraine has been also increasing.
The recent decision of the President of Ukraine to conduct new waves of mobilization in 2015 is a move of purely defensive nature logical in the situation of an ongoing massive build-up of the Russian military forces in Donbas and on the border compounded by ever increasing violations of the ceasefire and ferocious terrorist attacks.
On January 15, 2015 President Putin sent a letter to President Poroshenko where he proposed to withdraw forces from the line of contact. However, he refers to the de facto line of contact of today rather than to the line stipulated in the Minsk Memorandum. This is a blatant attempt to destroy the Minsk process and to legalize the numerous violations of the confirmed line by the terrorists.
Moreover, this proposal does not take into account the fact that Russia has illegally brought to Donbas new highly sophisticated heavy weapons with a longer destruction range and their presence questions previously agreed distances of heavy weapons withdrawal.
While trying to impose Russia’s revision of the line of contact, Mr.Putin’s proposal disregards such crucial elements of the Minsk arrangements as withdrawal of Russian armed personnel, mercenaries and heavy weapons from the territory of Ukraine as well as return of control over the state border to the Ukrainian authorities.
All in all, this proposal is another step in the scenario of buying time and disrupting the Minsk agreements while vigorously reinforcing Russia’s positions on the ground, including by the new types of heavy weaponry.
Ukraine insists on immediate practical implementation of the Minsk agreements in their entirety, in particular full adherence to the contact line stipulated therein as the first step towards de-escalation. There a strong need for an urgent and concrete action. There can be no more buying time diplomacy, continuously practiced by Moscow and the separatists.
We call for an urgent holding of another round of consultations of the Trilateral Contact Group with the signatories Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky, who bear personal responsibility for the fulfillment of the Minsk arrangements. These consultations must produce tangible progress in the implementation of the Minsk agreements and thus lay ground for holding a summit in the Normandy format in Astana, aimed at charting clear commitments towards the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.
On decentralization and national dialogue in Ukraine
Ukraine is fulfilling its commitments on decentralization and national dialogue under the Geneva Joint Statement and the Minsk arrangements.
We are working on the constitutional reform, with decentralization being its key element, as is provided by the Ukrainian law and in line with principles of the Council of Europe.
Moreover, we are resolute to promote an inclusive, transparent and accountable national unity dialogue. Yet, at the moment, our efforts are hindered with the hostilities in Donbas and lack of legitimate representatives of some areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, controlled by terrorists.
Bringing peace to Donbas would lay ground for holding local elections according to the Ukrainian legislation and under the international monitoring. Only such elections would produce legitimate representatives to speak on behalf of the region in the framework of the ongoing nationwide process.