Ukraine – Withdrawal of Russian representatives from the Joint Center for Control and Coordination (19 December 2017)

France regrets the withdrawal, on December 19, of Russian representatives from the Joint Center for Control and Coordination. This decision further undermines trust between the Russian and Ukrainian parties in the Donbas conflict.

Established in 2014, this center located in Soledar, Ukraine, brings together representatives of the Russian and Ukrainian military commands. It is an important mechanism for reducing tensions and implementing the Minsk agreement, particularly with respect to the withdrawal of heavy weaponry, mine clearance, and the repair of civilian infrastructures along the Line of Contact. It also plays a key role in ensuring the security of monitors from the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission and is its main point of contact on the ground.

France is therefore concerned by the consequences that could arise as a result of this withdrawal, both for the security of OSCE personnel, who have already reduced the range of their patrols, and for civilians, who are even more vulnerable in the winter. We urge the Russian authorities to reconsider this decision and hope that access to Ukrainian territory for Russian representatives at the Joint Center will be guaranteed by the Ukrainian authorities, in accordance with the law.

France reaffirms that the security of OSCE monitors, guaranteed by the 57 member states who adopted the mission’s mandate by consensus, is the parties’ primary responsibility. The parties to the Minsk agreement made this commitment within the trilateral OSCE-Russia-Ukraine contact group. France reiterates its condemnation of intimidation attempts, restrictions of movement, and threats to monitors’ security. These must stop, and those responsible must be held accountable. We call for the parties’ full implementation of their obligations under the Minsk agreement and guaranteed safe access for OSCE monitors to all the territory covered by the conflict, up to the international border, as provided by their mandate.