By J Nastranis
NEW YORK (IDN) – Kazakhstan has expressed concern for “the unpredictable and volatile situation” in eastern Ukraine and the frequent ceasefire violations, which have a direct impact on the civilian population. “These violations result indeaths and injuries, along with many humanitarian consequences,” said Ambassador Kairat Umarov, the Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the United Nations headquarters in New York.
He was addressing the Security Council meeting on May 29, 2018 which discussed the situation in Ukraine in the face of civilians bearing the brunt of four-year-old conflict in Ukraine, bordered by Russia to the east and northeast, Belarus to the northwest, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia to the west, Romania and Moldova to the southwest, and the Black Sea and Sea of Azov to the south and southeast, respectively.
Ukraine is currently in a territorial dispute with Russia over the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014 and now administers as two federal subjects of the Russian federation, but which Ukraine and most of the international community continue to recognize as Ukrainian.
Ambassador Umarov expressed appreciation to Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo and OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) Chief Monitor Ertugrul Apakan, as well as Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Ursula Mueller for their “comprehensive updates.” He also welcomed Foreign Ministers of Poland, the Netherlands and Ukraine.
“The conflict [in eastern Ukraine] continues to test the credibility of international and regional organizations and erodes the trust Member States need to work together in the interest of Europe’s stability,” said DiCarlo. Repeated pledges to respect the ceasefire as laid out in the 2015 Minsk agreements had failed to end the fighting, now in its fifth year.
Destruction and immense suffering continued, she said, noting that the civilian death toll stood at more than 2,700, with up to 9,000 injured. Diplomatic talks under the auspices of the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group had not reduced the volatility on the ground, while the relative calm that had held in the beginning of 2018 had tumbled, in April and May, with a sharp increase in the number of victims.
Assistant Secretary‑General Mueller said that civilians continued to bear the brunt of the conflict. Noting that civilians on the ground regularly risked shelling, sniper fire and landmines, she stressed that civilians must be protected and urged all parties to respect international law. Despite repeated appeals, water treatment workers and facilities continued to be targeted, including eight attacks against the Donetsk filtration station — which supplied water to over 345,000 people — in the previous 40 days. Families lived in damp basements and more than 100,000 children attended schools with windows lined with sandbags. “Wars have limits,” she said, urging all parties to avoid and minimize civilian harm.
OSCE Special Monitoring Mission Chief Monitor Ukraine Apakan said that since January, more than 100,000 ceasefire violations had been recorded. Following a short pause in the violence over Easter, fighting had increased, mainly in two areas in the Donetsk region.
Describing the use of artillery such as multiple launch rocket systems, he urged the immediate removal of such weapons – prohibited under the Minsk agreements – especially from populated areas. The OSCE Mission continued to facilitate dialogue, enabling much‑needed repairs on the ground and to document the human cost of the conflict. Since the start of 2018, it had registered 107 civilian casualties most caused by shelling, mines or improvised explosive devices.
Referring to the worsened humanitarian situation since the beginning of May 2018 in Donbass, the Kazakh Permanent Representative to the UN said: “We note also an increase in the use of heavy weapons, so that more than 60 percent of the people living along the contact line are affected by regular shelling. A considerably large segment of the population does not have access to power, water and gas supplies. The deteriorating security situation, in the wider area around the Donetsk Filtration Station, poses a threat to the facility, its workers and monitors,” he added.
Ambassador Umarov also expressed sincere concern for the fate of youth, women and all vulnerable groups, including internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees, half of whom are the elderly.
“In this regard, Kazakhstan reiterates strong support for the activities of the UN agencies and the OSCE SMM in the conflict area,” he said, adding: “We call for the immediate implementation by all sides of the Framework Decision on Disengagement of the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG), and welcome the results of its last meeting in Minsk on 16 May 2018.”
Kazakhstan is also urging the involved parties to provide full, safe and unhindered access to the SMM monitors in the conflict zone, “which is an essential requirement as a confidence building measure.”
Keeping in mind that a strong political will remains a key precondition in the process of settling the Ukrainian crisis, Kazakhstan believes that there is no other alternative to resolve the crisis except through peaceful means only. “These should be based on the observance by all participants of their obligations, strictly complying with Resolution 2202 on the Minsk Agreements.”
Kazakhstan is also of the view that a further escalation of tensions should be prevented to avoid complicating the situation further. This calls for all parties to withdraw their heavy weapons from the contact line.
“It is just as critical for the UN agencies, regional organizations and the international community to stand ready to assist the population, support international mediation efforts and facilitate the negotiation process among all parties and their leaders, with a particular focus on revitalizing the Normandy format,” said Ambassador Umarov. “All parties therefore must follow their obligations to provide free access to humanitarian assistance in the conflict zone.”
Of equal importance, the Kazakh Permanent Representative to the UN said, is the economic recovery of the south-east of Ukraine. “We therefore propose that confidence-building measures are introduced in the economic sphere so as to support greater social stability for the region.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 21 June 2018]
Photo: Jacek Czaputowicz (left), Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland and President of the Security Council for the month of May, chairs the Security Council meeting on 29 May 2018. At right is Rosemary A. DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.
IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.
facebook.com/IDN.GoingDeeper – twitter.com/InDepthNews