Ukraine ready for "all for all" detainee exchange with Russia

Canan Sarıtepe
29 January 2021, 21:30
Canan Sarıtepe
29 January 2021, 21:30

Ukraine calls on the Russian side to unblock the detainee exchange process, says it is ready to continue with "all for all" principle without any preconditions in the Normandy and Minsk formats.

Permanent Representative of Ukraine to International Organisations in Vienna Yevhenii Tsymbaliuk said this at a meeting of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) Permanent Council on Thursday, January 28, Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports.

The Ambassador urged Russia to unblock issues, progress in which has been stalled for many months only due to the lack of political will by Kremlin, most notably mutual release of detainees and opening of Zolote and Shchastia entry-exit checkpoints.

"We join the call by Heidi Grau to demonstrate the political will to swiftly reach an agreement on the mutual release of detainees based on the principle 'all for all', starting with 'all confirmed for all confirmed'. The Ukrainian side is ready to continue this process without any prior preconditions, within the established formats, that is Normandie Four and TCG (Trilateral Contact Group)," Tsymbaliuk said.

According to Tsymbaliuk, the increase in armed provocations by the Russian occupation forces in Donbas proves Moscow's willingness to maintain and fuel the armed hostilities it has begun.

"The recent developments on the ground prove that Russia’s willingness to maintain and fuel the armed hostilities is only growing. Since the last meeting of the Permanent Council, one Ukrainian serviceman was killed by sniper fire at the line of contact in Donbas on 21 January, and two were heavily wounded on 25 and 26 January."

The diplomat noted that the number of ceasefire violations by the Russian armed formations, including with the use of Minsk-proscribed weapons such as 120mm mortars, has significantly grown.

“On 23 January, the SMM reported the highest number of ceasefire violations in one day since 27 July 2020. We fully share the Mission’s assessment that this spike shows that the security situation in areas along the contact line can deteriorate suddenly. Last week, the SMM spotted 50 weapons in violation of withdrawal lines, all of them in Russia-occupied areas,” Tsymbaliuk said.

The Ambassador emphasised that activities of the OSCE SMM (Special Monitoring Mission) deployed in Ukraine to help reducing tensions and fostering peace, stability and security on the ground, remain severely restricted by the Russian occupiers.

"The Mission’s safe and secure access throughout Ukraine are only on paper, as the Russian side continues to violate its mandate by denying access to Crimea and impeding monitoring in Donbas."

Yevhenii Tsymbaliuk emphasised that Ukraine depends on the data provided by NGOs (Non-governmental organisations) in the temporarily occupied territories. 

"As neither the Ukrainian government nor the international community, including OSCE has direct access to the temporarily occupied Crimean peninsula, we continue to rely upon the evidence and data collected by the NGOs."

Tsymbaliuk urged the Russian Federation to reverse its illegal occupation of Crimea, militarisation of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, and to stop its aggression against Ukraine.