A high-level delegation from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly led by George Tsereteli, a Georgian MP (pictured above), has stressed the need for a UN peace-keeping mission to be deployed to Ukraine to help end the fighting in the eastern part of the country and to make full implementation of the Minsk Agreements possible. In meetings with governmental and parliamentary leaders in Kyiv, the delegation also addressed the humanitarian consequences of the armed conflict in Donbas and urged OSCE states to prioritise assisting the country in its efforts to ease the plight of the up to two million internally displaced persons.
Meetings were held in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, Deputy Chairperson of the Ukrainian Parliament Iryna Heraschenko, Deputy Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Mykola Kuzio, and the Ukrainian OSCE PA Delegation led by Artur Gerasymov.
The delegation arrived in the Ukrainian capital on May 14 after several days in the Donbas region, where they witnessed first-hand the dire humanitarian situation and the impact of the continued fighting on civilian infrastructure. The delegation also met with the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission’s (SMM) Chief Observer Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan and his deputy Aleska Simkic. After the meeting, they renewed their appeal to implement the agreed withdrawal of heavy weapons, especially from urban areas. They noted that 75 per cent of ceasefire violations are the result of nightly shelling stemming from mortars, resulting in high casualties among elderly women, while the huge number of landmines has caused many casualties among children.
“The OSCE PA stands steadfast in its solidarity with the people of Ukraine who face tragedies on a daily basis and are suffering under the consequences of Russia’s ongoing military actions on Ukrainian territory,” said Mr Tsereteli. “We have consistently called for the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements to end this armed conflict, but one ceasefire after the other is broken. Without a lasting end of the armed clashes, the vicious cycle which prevents their implementation will not come to an end. We therefore support efforts to launch a UN peace-keeping mission to be deployed in the whole conflict area including the border with Russia, which would finally make a fully effective monitoring by the SMM possible.”
The delegation also repeated the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. In its most recent declaration adopted in Minsk in 2017, the assembly called on the Russian Federation to “restrain its aggressive practices and reverse its annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.”
“An effective and sustainable ceasefire is an absolute priority, not only as a critical part of the Minsk Agreements, but as an immediate relief for those who suffer under the daily barrage of bullets and mortars,” said Finnish parliamentarian Ilkka Kanerva, a member of the OSCE delegation. “Political leaders must do their part to contribute to a safer environment for the people in the Donbas region. I believe that the establishment of a UN-mandated peacekeeping operation would be a practical step to start with.”
The visit of the OSCE delegation to Ukraine coincided with the opening of a controversial new bridge linking the Russian mainland and Crimea, tightening Russia’s hold over the peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.