Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba held talks with OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Sweden Ann Linde during her second visit to Ukraine this year.
The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office told the Minister about her visit to the Joint Forces Operation area, the entry-exit checkpoint “Novotroitske,” the visit to Mariupol, Krasnohorivka, and the Mariupol Sea Commercial Port. The parties agreed that the trip was important for understanding the situation in the Sea of Azov region, in particular in the context of Russia’s restrictions on freedom of navigation in the Sea of Azov.
“Attempts to stifle Ukrainian ports and hinder trade is a tactic of putting pressure on governments through putting pressure on people. Ukraine will make every effort to protect the economic and social stability of the Sea of Azov region. And our partners will stand by our side in achieving this goal,” Kuleba said.
The ministers discussed in detail the security situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine and along Ukraine’s borders, Russian aggression, and its humanitarian consequences.
The Foreign Minister of Ukraine praised the work of the OSCE and its Special Monitoring Mission, the mediation efforts in the Trilateral Contact Group.
Kuleba drew Linde’s attention to the fact that a significant Russian military presence is maintained near Ukraine’s borders: “Despite bold statements, there is no real withdrawal of Russian troops from our borders. According to our estimates, out of more than 100,000 Russian service members, who were amassed on the border with Ukraine at the time of alleged cessation of military exercises, no more than 12,000 have been withdrawn over more than a month. Therefore, this is not withdrawal. This is not de-escalation. The threat remains relevant.”
He also called inadmissible Russia’s actions towards limiting the mandate of the OSCE mission at Russian checkpoints “Hukovo” and “Donetsk” on the border with Ukraine and threats to shut down the mission completely. The minister noted that Russia did not want independent OSCE monitors to record Russian military activity along the Ukrainian border.
“Ukraine insists that the operation of the OSCE mission at ‘Hukovo’ and ‘Donetsk’ checkpoints should be extended after 31 July. Russia’s blackmail and contempt for the OSCE can be stopped only by the principled stance and actions of this organisation. And Ukraine will always support OSCE in these efforts,” Kuleba stressed.