November 20, 2020

Quotable notes


“As part of a broader program to destabilize its sovereign neighbor, Russia has fomented and financed a deadly conflict in eastern Ukraine for more than six years now. Rather than playing a constructive role in negotiating an end to this conflict, and the opportunities and structures are there to do this, and fulfilling its commitments under the Minsk agreements, Russia cynically claims to be an uninvolved third party, pointing to unnamed outside ‘masters’ having orchestrated a coup d’état in Kyiv.

“In the Trilateral Contact Group, Moscow tries to frame Kyiv as the spoiler in negotiations, while attempting to hide its role of controlling Russia’s forces on the ground in eastern Ukraine. Frankly, none of this is believable.

“While Russia works to hide its role in this conflict, the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission provides us with a detailed view of the situation in eastern Ukraine. Operating in volatile environments, these monitors risk their lives to deliver the unbiased reports on which all of us at this organization depend. Their work has been further complicated by the coronavirus pandemic, which has strained their resources and placed the monitors at further risk.

“Russia’s proxy forces do not make things easier. In October, the SMM reported dozens of instances in which its monitors’ movements were restricted; the vast majority occurred in Russia-controlled areas, a pattern highlighted in the mission’s most recent thematic report on freedom of movement and other impediments. On more than 40 occasions, the SMM reported interference with its UAVs, either by small arms fire or by signal interference. …

“…Moscow is pressuring Kyiv to negotiate in the Trilateral Contact Group directly with Russia’s puppet forces. If we are to see any real progress on concrete deliverables before winter sets in, Russia must begin to approach these negotiations in a constructive way, as Ukraine has repeatedly done.

“We regret that the planned November 10 opening of two new entry-exit crossing points in Donetsk has not yet taken place, as our Ukrainian colleague noted. These additional crossing points would undoubtedly improve the lives of civilians. Absent Russia’s aggression, there would be no need for designated crossing points within sovereign Ukrainian territory – not one, not three, not any. There would not be any need for it, except for this aggressive effort to divide the country. …”

– U.S. Ambassador James S. Gilmore III, addressing the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on November 12 in Vienna.