Stataemetn by Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova in her weekly briefing on Sept 28, 2017, published on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
We noted that right after this draft resolution was submitted to the UN Security Council for discussion, and even earlier, when the Russian initiative was first suggested, it was, unfortunately, distorted by the Ukrainian media, cast in a totally different light than intended. The original idea was immediately twisted. That is why we return to this topic, to give a clear understanding of what the essence of this draft resolution has been and is now, as well as the thinking of the Russian side.
As is known, one serious problem to be solved in order to proceed with the settlement of the Ukrainian conflict is to provide security for OSCE observers. We have heard it many times, even from representatives of the Kiev regime. With this in view, on September 5 Russia proposed a draft resolution to the UN Security Council. It stipulates that an OSCE special monitoring mission (SMM) will continuously monitor the line of contact, and UN troops armed with light weapons will be deployed there for its protection.
On September 11, parameters of the UN Mission were discussed by President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
We think that the key point is that the UN Mission to provide security should not change the current settlement formats, such as the Contact Group and the Normandy Four, and should not compete with the OSCE SMM in the monitoring it is carrying out in accordance with the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements.
Also, it is necessary to comply with a number of conditions to establish the Mission: 1) its functions are to be limited to providing security for OSCE staff; 2) the Mission can step in only after the disengagement of forces and the withdrawal of heavy weapons; 3) the agreement of all the parties to the conflict is necessary, both official Ukrainian authorities and the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR authorities. This is a clear position, which the Russian leadership has already presented. This is the basis of Russia’s approaches formulated in the draft resolution.
We believe that Ukrainian demands to deploy peacekeeping troops in the entire territory of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, and above of all, as Kiev insists, along the entire border with Russia, as well as to give them a “full-force” mandate, will lead to the breakup of existing settlement formats and change the sequence of steps envisaged by the Package of Measures. I would like to remind you that, according to this document, Kiev regaining total control over the border is the final stage of the settlement, and is only be possible after fulfilling all the provisions of the Package, including the political provisions. I would also like to remind everyone what Kiev tries hard to forget: This document was signed by the Ukrainian leader.
Russia’s initiative on protecting the Special Monitoring Mission of the OSCE in the south-east of Ukraine
On 5th September, at the 9th BRICS Summit in Xiamen, China, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin announced an initiative to establish a United Nations mission of support in the south-east of Ukraine to protect the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (SMM) of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
According to the Russian UN Security Council draft resolution, the UN Mission shall be a Mission equipped with small arms and light weapons mandated exclusively to ensure the security of the SMM OSCE observer groups exercising twenty-four-hour monitoring in the zones of disengagement of forces and equipment from the factual line of contact between the territory under the control of the armed forces of Ukraine and the territory of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
Their remit extends to the security of the SMM OSCE observer groups patrolling and monitoring the territories on both sides of the factual line of contact in accordance with their mandate to assist in implementation of the ‘Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements’ signed in Minsk, Belarus on 12 February 2015 and endorsed by the UN Secrity Council Resolution 2202 (2015).
This Mission should not substitute for the existing formats of the Ukrainian settlement (Contact group and ‘Normandy Quartet’) nor compete with the SMM OSCE. Its mandate focuses exclusively on ensuring the safety of the OSCE observers.
The complete disengagement of forces and equipment from the factual line of contact should be secured before the Mission starts. Both parties to the conflict – the one being the Ukrainian authorities, and the other the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk Republics – should give consent to the Mission. Kiev is also due to extend the law on the special status of the Donbass, which will expire on 17 October.
Stretching of the mandate of this Mission in contravention of the Minsk Agreements will lead to an erosion of the existing mechanisms and formats, as well as damage to the Package of measures and its core principle, the sequence of steps to be undertaken by both parties to the Ukrainian conflict.