Mr. President, I would like to thank Under-Secretary General DiCarlo, the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group and the Head of the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission for their briefings.
Together with France, Germany stays committed to achieving progress in the Normandy Format, which plays a central role in advancing the implementation of the Minsk Agreements.
Many obstacles remain. However, the reaffirmed ceasefire of July 2020 proved that progress can be made if political will is there.
With regard to recent reports on increased shelling in Eastern Ukraine, we recall that the ceasefire agreement must be observed, and that it is utterly unacceptable to attack civilian infrastructure.
On 26 January in Paris and on 10 February in Berlin, talks were held. All participants committed themselves to the full implementation of the Minsk agreements and to continuing talks in the N4 and the Trilateral Contact Group Format.
n this respect, we express our strong concern about the resolution of the Russian State Duma calling on the President of the Russian Federation to recognize the self-declared “People’s Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk” as independent states. This would run counter to the Minsk agreements and constitute a further breach of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Mister President, in this tense situation, it is very important to establish facts and to identify disinformation. We commend the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission’s indispensable role in establishing facts on the security situation. We must ensure that it can carry out its full mandate without interruption throughout Ukraine. This is why we leave the German seconded staff on the ground – like France and other partners do.
We are concerned about the restrictions of SMM monitors’ freedom of movement and destruction of their equipment. This is unacceptable.
Mr President! These days, we cannot evaluate the state of the Minsk agreements without factoring in military developments in the region. In recent months, an unprecedented military buildup of Russian forces has taken place on the Russian and Belarusian side of Ukraine’s border.
It is next to impossible to not perceive this as a threat or the preparation for an attack. We deplore that Russia has so far failed to provide any satisfactory explanation for this course of action.
The UN Charter is crystal-clear in this respect: It prohibits not only the use of force, but also the mere threat of using force.
Germany fully supports the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and independence of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, in line with the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris and all OSCE commitments.
In order to defuse tensions, we have stepped up our diplomatic efforts, in close co-ordination especially with our French Partners.
We have taken note of Russia’s recent announcement to downsize its troop presence alongside the Ukrainian border. We now call on Russia to immediately follow up and to withdraw its troops from Ukraine’s borders, substantially and verifiably.
Russia should be aware that any military aggression against Ukraine would entail severe political, economic and geostrategic consequences.
Moreover, we urge Russia to provide full transparency regarding its military activities. To this end, Russia should make full use of the information and consultation mechanisms provided for by the Vienna Document within the OSCE framework.
Together with its partners and allies, Germany remains open to discussing with Russia security concerns of mutual interest.
Mr President! If a sovereign Member State of this organization adopts an aggressive posture towards another sovereign Member State of this organization, this is not something the United Nations and its Member States should be casual about.
It is good that the UN’s bodies stay abreast of the situation around Ukraine, and that we will have a debate in the General Assembly on 23 February.
Germany will remain strongly committed to finding a diplomatic solution.