France recalls its commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty - 5 June 2015 [fr]
Emergency meeting on the situation in Ukraine - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 5 June 2015
I thank Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman and Mr. Alexander Hug, Deputy Chief Monitor of the Special Monitoring Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), for their briefings.
The latest developments on the ground are worrying. I refer of course to the resumption of fighting on Wednesday in Marinka, west of Donetsk, and of the increase in incidents at numerous points on the front line. According to the information we have, the attack was launched by separatist troops in violation of the commitments made in Minsk on 12 February. We firmly condemn all violations of the ceasefire declared in February and urge the parties to respect their commitments under the Minsk agreement’s implementation package.
It is clear, however, that the fighting, which is at a level of intensity not seen since February and the attack on Debaltseve, comes primarily from limited forces in a sector that has already been the scene of several violations of the ceasefire, to our regret. As far as we know, the separatist forces amount to a half-battalion supported by armoured elements and they have been halted. The situation, however, presents a number of features that call for extreme vigilance, particularly the concentration of heavy weapons that violate the Minsk agreement, which must be stopped immediately. Similarly, the presence among the separatists of many foreign fighters who are radicalized, bellicose and undisciplined shows that Moscow must do more, and do better, to control the actions of the separatists and mercenaries.
The deterioration of the situation on the ground should not detract from the overall situation in Ukraine. Despite the attack, the Minsk process is ongoing and there are true signs of hope. From the security perspective, the Minsk process has launched a positive momentum, even if it has been only unevenly applied to date. The average number of victims per day has dropped significantly since the adoption of the Minsk package on 12 February. More than 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers have been released.
Furthermore, at the second level of the process, there have recently been tenuous but encouraging developments in the political process. In particular, the working groups proposed by Ms. Tagliavini in her statement before the Council three months ago (see S/PV.7400) have been established and have already met. Discussions are still getting off the ground. They have been delayed by numerous signs of distrust and sensitivity on both sides. We note that in the groups, substantial and productive debates have achieved tangible progress on organizing elections in the separatist zone. In particular, a voting method for the separatist zone has been accepted by all, and that is a positive sign that touches on one of the key aspects of the crisis.
Similarly, the Trilateral Contact Group, the cornerstone of the implementation of the Minsk agreements, within which the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and plays a crucial role pursuant to resolution 2202 (2015), has met on several occasions. In that regard, we regret the change of heart of the Russian party which, in leaving the discussion table with great fanfare on Tuesday, is attempting to impose the separatists as the sole Ukrainian interlocutors in that forum. We remind Russia, a member of the Trilateral Contact Group and, more than any other party, subject to the provisions of resolution 2202 (2015), that it cannot shirk its obligations. The conflict in Ukraine is not a domestic crisis in which Russia can simply play the role of well-meaning mediator between two camps. Everyone knows the role that it has played in the crisis from the start, and Russia has been paying the consequences since then.
We are at a moment of truth in the Ukrainian crisis. The future of the Trilateral Contact Group is at stake and we cannot allow that crucial part of the diplomatic framework, which was put together so painstakingly, to be simply withdrawn and disqualified, particularly as it was endorsed by the Council in resolution 2202 (2015). More broadly, we must do all we can to maintain the momentum and methodology that we have used up til now. Our priority must be the full implementation of both the security and political aspects of the Minsk package, which must enter into force simultaneously before the end of the year. Respect for the timeframe established in Minsk is crucial and in our opinion it is unacceptable that it be allowed to slide. The timeframe is ambitious, but the Minsk process is the only possible means to avoid a resumption of violence from which no one would benefit.
A Normandy format follow-up meeting of political experts will take place in Paris on 10 June. We call on Russia to stop trying to extricate itself from the negotiating process and to exercise its responsibility over the separatists. It is, moreover, important to stress to the Kyiv authorities that they must begin a real dialogue with the separatists in order to organize local elections in full respect for the Minsk timeframe, and to implement the decentralization of Ukraine. When proposals made by the separatists are unacceptable to Ukraine, it must respond with its own so that the negotiations can move forward.
At this crucial moment in the implementation of the Minsk process, our commitment is more important than ever. The commitment of France is unwavering. In the context of the Normandy format, France and Germany will continue to bring pressure to bear on the parties to ensure that the OSCE enjoys the freedom of movement it requires to perform the tasks entrusted to it under the Minsk agreements, particularly in terms of monitoring the ceasefire and the withdrawal of weapons.
Finally, we recall our commitment to the sovereignty, independence and territorial independence of Ukraine within its international recognized borders.