Ukraine: increase in the level of violence in the Donbas [fr]
Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United NationsRetour ligne automatique
Security Council – 30 October 2018
I thank Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo and Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Ursula Mueller, for their enlightening briefings about the ongoing tragic situation in Ukraine, which, now more than ever, requires the attention of the international community.
After more than four years of conflict in the Donbas region, fighting continues unabated. Not one day passes without a military and civilian victim or without shots, including from heavy weaponry, being fired into areas where civilians live. For more than four years, including recently at a ministerial meeting held on 11 June, France and Germany, together with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), have spared no effort, within the framework of the Normandy format, to bring the parties together, facilitate the implementation of the Minsk agreements and help end the conflict. My German colleague, whom I am pleased to welcome to the Chamber, and I will hold a press briefing at the end of today’s meeting, as the representatives of two mediating countries of the Normandy format.
Beyond Donbas, whenever possible, France condemns the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and calls on all States Members of the United Nations to reiterate their support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. In that tense environment, three recent developments in particular deserve our attention.
First, allow me to mention once again to the so-called elections planned for 11 November in the two separatist areas of Donetsk and Luhansk. Whereas we endeavour under the Normandy format to move towards the holding of local elections according to Ukrainian law and the Minsk agreements, the current initiative is a flagrant attempt to undermine the sovereignty of the Ukrainian State. It is contrary to the commitments made, in particular by Russia, when the agreements were signed. We therefore encourage all Member States to firmly and publicly condemn the organization of those illegal elections. We hope that Russia can use its influence with the separatist entities to suspend the organization of the so-called elections. Instead, it should strive to foster the right conditions for the holding of the local elections stipulated in the Minsk agreements, which is one of the keys to restoring peace. It should be noted that, for its part, Ukraine has signalled its commitment to the political component of the Minsk agreements by renewing the law on the special status of Donbas, which it adopted in September 2014.
Secondly, we deplore the lack of progress on security issues in Donbas. The ceasefire, which has been renewed several times, has not materialized in a sustainable manner on the ground. Moreover, we have recently seen an increase in the level of violence, with an average of more than 1,000 incidents per day, according to the observations of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. Similarly, the withdrawal of heavy weaponry has still not been implemented. For four years, the civilian population — including children and the elderly, as Ms. Mueller reminded us — have been targeted practically every day by such weapons.
We are still awaiting progress — especially from Ukraine — on the three pilot disengagement areas. All commitments made must be respected; this is not a matter of pick-and-choose obligations. France cannot emphasize enough the urgent need for progress on each of the measures necessary to improve the security situation, which is essential for reaching a settlement of the conflict.
Thirdly, and finally, France expresses its deep concern about the humanitarian situation described by the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs. There are nearly 1.5 million displaced persons in Ukraine, while more than 700,000, on both sides of the line of contact, who are receiving humanitarian assistance. As stated in the presidential statement of 6 June (S/PRST/2018/12), the situation calls for more robust action by United Nations humanitarian agencies on the ground. To achieve that goal, France calls on all the parties to facilitate humanitarian access for United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations to provide aid and assistance, not only to civilian populations but also to prisoners of war. With the harsh Donbas winter approaching, it is now more necessary than ever to relieve the suffering of the most vulnerable people.
The situation in Ukraine is not necessarily inevitable. It is up to Russia to take the decision to put an end to the illegal annexation of Crimea and use its influence over the separatist entities in Donbas to guarantee the immediate implementation of the Minsk agreements. We also encourage Ukraine to show greater political will and play its part in implementing the agreements, which should lead to the return of lasting peace.