"The Russian-Ukrainian conflict has been going on for more than six years - longer than World War II, the most devastating military conflict in human history. Russia has not learned the lessons of World War II; in 2008, it attacked Georgia, and in 2014, it made an illegal attempt of the annexation of part of the territory of its neighbour, Ukraine. Russia launched a military invasion of Crimea and Donbas, as well as initiated a large-scale propaganda war against my country aiming to justify this invasion and avoid responsibility," Ambassador-at-large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Oleh Herasymenko said at the special session on Ukraine within the framework of the OSCE Annual Security Review Conference.
As the representative of Ukraine stressed, Russia is strengthening its military presence in Donbas and continues to turn the Crimean peninsula and surrounding waters into its "military outpost in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov." "Such destabilizing actions pose a threat to security and trade far beyond the OSCE region," he said.
Herasymenko stressed that Russia's constant violation of most basic norms of international law should not become a new norm for Europe. "If tolerated, it will only lead to a further deterioration of the security situation and will serve as a pretext for the aggressor state to continue its policy," he said.
The diplomat noted that last year's presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine "opened a window for opportunities for Ukraine and Russia to speed up negotiations on a long-overdue peaceful, political-diplomatic settlement." Ukraine has taken a number of steps towards a peaceful settlement, but they receive no response from Russia. On the contrary, Russia has accelerated the issuance of passports to residents of occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which has a negative impact on the prospects for peace and reintegration of these areas.
"We have not yet seen any signs that the Kremlin has made a final decision to end the conflict and withdraw its armed forces, mercenaries and other illegal armed groups from the occupied territories of Ukraine. Instead, it continues to send troops through an uncontrolled section of the Ukrainian-Russian border, to persecute Ukrainian citizens in Crimea and Donetsk and Luhansk regions, to wage hybrid war against the Ukrainian state and society, the legitimate authorities, the rule of law and democracy in Ukraine," the Foreign Ministry’s representative said.
He called on Russia to demonstrate constructive participation in the talks on ending the conflict and occupation and reminded of the "red lines" for the Ukrainian side: there can be no compromise on Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence within its internationally recognized borders.
Thanking the OSCE and participating states for their assistance in efforts to resolve the conflict in Donbas, the Ukrainian diplomat also called for "exploring possible ways to significantly strengthen the OSCE's activities in Crimea."