I align myself fully with the statement made by the European Union and I will add some remarks on behalf of France and Germany.
France and Germany are deeply disappointed by the Russian Federation’s decision against the renewal of the mandate of the Border Observation Mission at the Russian checkpoints of Gukovo and Donetsk (BOM). For more than 7 years now, the mission has been providing important and objective information on the situation at the Russian-Ukrainian border, which we will not receive anymore. It has been a central confidence-building instrument and part of the conflict resolution efforts of the OSCE.
The unilateral decision made by Russia is a negative signal that contradicts the letter and the spirit of the Minsk agreements. We recall that the Minsk Protocol of September 2014 provides for permanent monitoring of the border and verification by the OSCE, and that the Minsk Package of Measures of February 2015 includes the commitment to reinstate full control by Ukraine over its entire international border.
In the Normandy Format, France and Germany are maintaining their efforts for the full implementation of the Minsk agreements. An effective and comprehensive monitoring of the Russia-Ukraine state border remains essential to improve the security situation and find a sustainable political solution to the conflict.
To our deep concern, the closing of the BOM will irrevocably reduce transparency and further diminish confidence and trust. We also have to take into account that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission has been facing for years massive restrictions of its freedom of movement in non-government controlled areas, and in particular close to the border.
We therefore call on Russia to work more constructively on how to increase transparency at the border and to build new confidence between all sides. As a first step, we would like to see the expansion of SMM’s footprint by establishing new forward patrol bases in non-government-controlled areas, adjacent to the border, as envisaged in the current SMM budget.
Increasing transparency and building confidence are important components to work towards the sustainable resolution of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. We call on the Russian Federation to engage constructively rather than undermine our joint efforts aimed at the long-term political solution of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.