On February 20th 2019 during the speech at the United Nations General Assembly Debate on agenda item 67 “The situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine”, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko informed the world community of the military threat for Ukraine, Russia has deployed in the temporarily occupied territories of Donbas and Crimea.
The President emphasized that Moscow had been sending its regular military forces and proxies to Donbas for already 5 years.
The Head of State noted: “Donbas literally became a production line for Russia’s killing machine. As cynical as it is, they even send their young military cadets to Donbas to get practice in the battlefield. In mothers’ place, I would ask Russian president where their sons are?”.
The President underscored that there was neither so-called “crisis in Ukraine” nor “internal conflict in Ukraine”, but an ongoing military occupation and armed aggression by Russia against Ukraine.
The Head of State emphasized that the report of the ICC leading prosecutor had recognized conflict in Crimea and Donbas as armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea as an ongoing state of occupation.
“It’s truly mind-boggling that even after all these decisions the Russian Federation is still trying to present itself as a peaceful state that fully implements its obligations under the UN Charter. There are no so-called “de-facto authorities” but the Russian occupation administration in the temporarily occupied territories of Donbas and Crimea, as well as Russian state bodies and agencies, which are in charge of administering these occupied territories,” Petro Poroshenko said.
“There are no rebels but Russian regular armed forces under the Defense Ministry and formations of special and secret services. There are no insurgents but Russian advisors, instructors, irregular illegal armed groups created, equipped, funded and controlled by Russia,” the Head of State noted.
Petro Poroshenko cited figures indicating a military threat to Ukraine by the Russian Federation. According to the President, by February 2019, in the occupied Crimea Russia has deployed up to 32.5 thousand military personnel, 88 artillery systems, 52 multiple launch rocket systems, 372 armored combat vehicles, 113 warplanes, 62 combat helicopters, as well as 6 combat ships and 6 submarine ships equipped with sea launch cruise missiles “Caliber”.
The President does not exclude eventual deployment of nuclear weapons in the peninsula. “The infrastructure is already there, and Russia has used the past five years to restore and modernize it. Thus, we are witnessing an unprecedented militarization of the Black Sea area,” Petro Poroshenko added. He emphasized that Russia was changing the strategic balance in the region and well beyond its borders turning Crimea into a launch pad for its missiles.
According to the President, In Donbas, Russian armed formations have 496 tanks. “Please know that this number is bigger than that of Germany or France, Spain or Italy. And it is Ukraine who contains this Russian force, that also has 938 armored combat vehicles, 128 Multiple Launch Rocket System, 776 artillery systems, including self-propelled ones. It makes Ukraine a true Eastern flank of NATO in defense of trans-Atlantic freedom and democracy,” Petro Poroshenko said.
According to the Head of State, the overall number of illegal armed formations stands now at around 35 thousand militants, along with 2 100 servicemen from Russian regular armed forces. The total number of the Russian armed forces along the Russian-Ukrainian border is over 87 thousand military.
II. Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine on the 5th anniversary of the beginning of Russian armed aggression against Ukraine.
Five years ago Russia gravely violated international law when it started on a course of action to illegally occupy Crimea. The illegal and fake referendums that Russia staged in Crimea have not been recognized by the international community. However, reluctance to react robustly has emboldened the criminal Kremlin regime to expand its aggression into new areas, notably its occupation of parts of Ukraine’s Donbas region.
On November 25th 2018, Russia attacked Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait and Black Sea international waters and once again committed an open act of aggression against Ukraine.
The result of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is dramatic and unprecedented in post-war Europe. Today more than 13 thousand Ukrainians have been killed, 30 thousands wounded and 1.5 million people displaced. Added to this there has been significant destruction within the Donbas region, usurpation of Ukrainian property in occupied Crimea, gross human rights violations by the occupying powers, breaches of norms of international humanitarian law and the political persecution of Ukrainian citizens – all aimed at suppressing any manifestation of anti-occupation sentiment. Finally, there has also been sweeping and large-scale militarization of the occupied peninsula.
Due to the heroic efforts of Ukraine’s military, mounting international political pressure and with the support of international partners Ukraine continues to counter Russia’s aggression.
A strong international coalition is actively supporting Ukraine, increasing pressure on Russia by demanding its full de-occupation of Ukrainian territories and making it clear to the Kremlin that there are real consequences if aggression continues.
All political prisoners and prisoners-of war should be immediately released. This is the common position of both Ukraine and international partners. Further delays by Moscow with respect to prisoners release should have very serious consequences, including increased sanctions.
Ending Russian aggression in Donbas should be underpinned by a full-scale UN peacekeeping mission with a mandate that covers the whole zone of conflict.
The international community supports Ukraine with respect to the issue of the illegal occupation of Crimea. A number of resolutions provide a very clear assessment of Moscow’s policy in this regard. Clear demands have been made on Russia to adhere to the norms of international humanitarian law and to de-occupy the peninsula. There is also condemnation for the militarization of Crimea and adjacent parts of the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.
Today the UN General Assembly will, for the first time and with the participation of the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, discuss the situation in the occupied territories, proving once again that Moscow’s actions are unacceptable to the international community.
We are grateful to our partners for their practical support for the development of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, conducting reforms and providing stabilization of the economic situation for which the war has taken a heavy toll. Only an economically and militarily strong and democratic Ukraine can force the enemy to retreat.
Restoring the territorial integrity of Ukraine is needed, not only to ensure the future for Ukraine’s citizens – but to renew trust in the European and world security system, which is based on an unconditional respect for the norms of international law and serious consequences for those states seeking to override these laws.
III. Strategic path of Ukraine towards the European Union and the North AtlanticTreaty Organization memberships.
On February 07, 2019, the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine has adopted amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine concerning the strategic course in gaining full membership of Ukraine in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
- By amending its Constitution Ukraine has set point of no return in our strategic path towards EU and NATO memberships. Clear foreign policy priorities, enshrined in the Constitution, will prevent any possible revanchist actions;
- 334 votes (constitutional majority) for the amendments prove to the fact that EU and NATO aspirations are a common strategic commitment of all main political forces, not a short-term interest in the election year.
- Constitutional amendments should be considered as a logical follow-up to the steps, made by the President, Parliament and Government since 2014, when Ukraine brought back the European and Euro-Atlantic integration to the list of its priorities in the foreign and domestic policies.
- New provisions of the Constitution constitute a powerful message to our friends in both EU and NATO, underpinning Ukraine’s practical efforts to reform and meet those criteria, required for membership;
- Most Ukrainians support Ukraine’s aspirations to join the EU (54%, according to the recent poll by “Rating”), the public support of NATO membership has also reached one of the highest levels since 1991 (45% “Yes” with only 31% of “No”).
- Ukrainian people consider the European and Euro-Atlantic course as a crucial condition for national security, mature democracy and economic prosperity.
- We realize that the great part of our job is still ahead of us and we continue to carry out comprehensive reforms aimed at strengthening democracy and rule of law, strengthening security and defence capabilities, ensuring economic prosperity, modernisation and well-being of citizens – all necessary preconditions for membership in the EU and NATO.
- Since the beginning of the Russian armed aggression against Ukraine in 2014, we have made significant progress in the security and defence sector reform.
- Our defence reform reflects objective to achieve NATO standards, interoperability with NATO forces, to strengthen civilian control and parliamentary oversight over the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces. At all NATO summits Alliance says that an independent, sovereign, and stable Ukraine, firmly committed to democracy and the rule of law, is key to Euro-Atlantic security.