GA: Situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine

Nordic statement by Ambassador Mona Juul on the situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, 20 February 2019.

Madam President,

I have the honor to speak on behalf of the Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and my own country, Norway.

Five years have passed since the start of the Russian Federation’s violation of international law in Ukraine. The violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity began with the illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol. Then followed the destabilization of Eastern Ukraine, leading to the illegal declaration of independence of the so-called “people’s republics”.

Russia has extended its illegal annexation of Crimea by militarizing the peninsula, building the Kerch Strait Bridge and gradually imposing unilateral control of the Strait. On the 25th of November, 2018 Russia escalated tension by using force against Ukrainian vessels. We call for the immediate release of the vessels and the twenty-four crew members that are detained in Russia, as well as for the permanent restoration of free access to Ukrainian ports on the Sea of Azov.

We stress that these violations of international law – the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and the Paris Charter – are not a bilateral or European concern, but a global one. We therefore welcome this debate in the General Assembly.

Madam President,

We are concerned about the deterioration of the human rights situation in Crimea including pressure and detentions on dubious charges of human rights defenders, journalists and minorities, in particular Crimean Tatars. We call for the release of all political prisoners held in Crimea and Russia. We further urge all parties to uphold their human rights commitments and to grant international monitoring bodies full access to all parts of Ukraine’s internationally recognized territory, in line with relevant UNGA resolutions.

Madam President,

The conflict in Eastern Ukraine has resulted in the death of an estimated 13,000 people and to the displacement of millions. Regrettably, the implementation of the Minsk agreements are not moving forward. The ceasefire to which the parties have committed has only been upheld a few days since the agreements were signed in 2014-2015. The holding of elections in the so-called “people’s republics” last November constituted a further breach of the Minsk Agreements. We call on Russia to stop fueling the conflict by providing financial and military support to the armed formations and to withdraw its military equipment and personnel from non-government controlled areas. Once again, we urge all parties to fulfil their commitments.

Madam President,

The humanitarian situation is dire due to shelling, mining, disrupted utilities and lamentable conditions at crossing points on the contact line. We remind the parties of their responsibilities concerning the protection of the civilian population. We also urge them to allow unhindered access for humanitarian actors in line with international humanitarian law. The protracted conflict has exacerbated the humanitarian needs of the population. We call on donors to contribute to the underfunded humanitarian response plan. Furthermore, all Ukrainian citizens, including those living in non-government controlled areas, and internally displaced persons should receive social benefits and pensions to which they are eligible regardless of their place of residence.

The OSSE’s Special Monitoring mission is carrying out valuable work in regards to both reporting and overseeing limited ceasefires that allow utilities to be repaired. However, the SMM’s monitors frequently face restrictions, threats and intimidation, predominantly in non-government controlled areas. This, as well as attacks against the equipment of the mission, is unacceptable. We urge all parties to ensure the security of the SMM and its ability to fulfil its mandate, which covers all of Ukraine’s territory, including the Crimean Peninsula.

Madam President,

The Nordic countries are convinced that a rules-based world order is essential for our common security. We call on members of the international community to adopt non-recognition policies in line with resolution 68/262. We urge the Russian Federation to abide by international law and end its ongoing violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. We further call on the Secretary General and the whole UN to assess what more can be done to restore security and respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Thank you Madam President.