EU countries remind UNSC of Russia's crimes in Donbas, Ukrainian seamen, MH17

EU countries remind UNSC of Russia's crimes in Donbas, Ukrainian seamen, MH17

The EU countries have reminded the UN Security Council of Russia's obligation to free Ukrainian seamen unconditionally, as well as called on Russia to stop fueling the conflict in Donbas and cooperate with Dutch prosecutors to establish those guilty of shooting down flight MH17.

Representatives of the EU countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Britain, and Estonia) said this in a joint statement after a meeting of the UN Security Council on July 16, which was convened by Russia to discuss the Ukrainian language law.

"We call on Russia to unconditionally release all 24 naval servicemen, illegally detained since the 25 November Kerch Strait incident, and to return the captured Ukrainian vessels immediately in accordance with the binding order of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea of 25 May. We further call on Russia to restore free and unhindered navigation in the Sea of Azov," they said.

European ambassadors also added that they fully support the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, and condemn Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea.

"We expect Russia to immediately stop fueling the conflict, and to refrain from actions that jeopardize the implementation of the Minsk Agreements and that impede the full restoration of Ukrainian government control over those areas as prescribed in the agreements," the statement said.

Diplomats explained that in particular, Russia must end its financial and military support to the separatists and stop issuing passports to Ukrainian citizens in the Donbas region.

"We condemn the unacceptable attack on a medical vehicle of Ukraine's Joint Forces near the village of Vodiane on 1 July, resulting in three casualties," they said.

The EU further condemns any attempts to harass, intimidate or impede the work of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM), in particular a recent incident where SMM monitors came under fire.

"We call on all parties to fully implement their commitments under the Minsk agreements, beginning with a comprehensive, durable and lasting ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weaponry, and to engage constructively in the Normandy Format and the Trilateral Contact Group," they said.

According to diplomats, they are encouraged by the constructive participation of both Ukraine and Russia in a meeting of political advisers in the Normandy Format in Paris on 12 July, as well as the successful disengagement from Stanytsia Luhanska in late June.

The EU insists that the UN Security Council must remain seized of the matter, given the situation in Ukraine is an issue of international concern.

European diplomats recalled that July 17 marks the fifth anniversary of the shooting down of MH17, which resulted in the tragic deaths of the 298 people on board.

"The family and friends of those who died deserve justice. We call on all states, in particular the Russian Federation, to fully cooperate with the Joint Investigation Team and the criminal proceedings in the Netherlands to establish accountability for the downing of flight MH17, in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2166," they said.

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