After a virtual meeting of the UN Security Council (UNSC) on the topic of the Minsk agreements on Ukraine, on Thursday, February 11, Estonian Ambassador to the UN Sven Jürgenson made a joint press statement on behalf of the European Union current, and previous, members of the UNSC, Norway and the United Kingdom.
"We as the EU's current and previous members on the UNSC, Estonia, France Ireland, Belgium and Germany, are joined today by Norway and the U.K. in fully supporting the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders," Jürgenson said.
He said that the countries strongly condemn the continued destabilization of areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east of Ukraine.
"Respect for the territorial integrity of any state and the prohibition of the use of force are fundamental principles of international law. These two principles are clearly stated in the UN Charter as well as in the Helsinki Final Act. With the use of force against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, Russia is clearly violating fundamental principles of international law," the statement says.
The statement goes on to say that after almost seven years of conflict, the unstable security situation in eastern Ukraine continues to take a heavy toll on the civilian population living in the non-government controlled areas and along the line of contact. More than 13,000 people have been killed in the conflict in Donbas, more than 30,000 have been injured and 3.4 million people continue to require humanitarian assistance. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the humanitarian situation.
"We are especially concerned about the most vulnerable, in particular children, the elderly population and all those who need access to education and health services. We regret that access of humanitarian actors to non-government-controlled areas has been regularly obstructed. We also remain concerned about serious human rights violations and abuses linked to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, as reported by the OHCHR Monitoring Mission," the statement says.
"Furthermore, we are deeply concerned by the freedom of movement restrictions imposed on the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in non-government-controlled areas as well as the obstruction of their technical assets, which directly limit the SMM's ability to implement its mandate," Jurgenson said.
He said that since the Normandy summit held in Paris in December 2019, there has been some limited progress, such as the exchanges of prisoners.
"We welcome the reduced level of violence since additional measures to strengthen the ceasefire came into force last July. However, we are concerned about the increase in the number of ceasefire violations since November. Much more needs to be done. We urge all sides to fully implement the Minsk agreements and the conclusions of the Paris Summit, starting with the full implementation of the immediate measures to stabilize the situation in the conflict area. We underline Russia's responsibility and commitments in this regard."
"We again call on the Russian Federation to immediately stop fueling the conflict by providing financial and military support to the armed formations it backs, and we remain deeply concerned about the presence of Russian military equipment and personnel in the non-government-controlled areas of Ukraine. We call on the sides to engage constructively in the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group with a view to the full implementation of the Minsk agreements," the statement from Jürgenson continues.
Editor: Roberta Vaino