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USOSCE Statements

U.S. Calls for OSCE Observers to be Sent Immediately to Ukraine

As prepared for delivery by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer to the Extraordinary Preparatory Committee Meeting, Vienna

March 2, 2014

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you for calling this meeting today. The current crisis is a reminder of the urgent work of this organization and that regional security is not something that is permanent or finished, but something that requires constant work.

I want to start by thanking the distinguished Ambassador of Ukraine for his presentation and for his efforts to keep us informed. I also offer him my heartfelt support during this difficult time. 

The United States condemns the Russian Federation’s military action in Ukraine and its violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity in full contravention of Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, its 1997 military basing agreement with Ukraine, and the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. Secretary Kerry yesterday called the actions of the Russian Federation “a threat to the peace and security of Ukraine and of the wider region.” Indeed, it is a threat to the peace and security of the whole of the OSCE space, and is the reason we are gathered here today. As Secretary Kerry clearly stated yesterday, “unless immediate and concrete steps are taken by Russia to de-escalate tensions, the effect on U.S.-Russian relations and on Russia’s international standing will be profound.” The effects on relations between the Russian Federation and every single participating State around this table, to which the Russian Federation has pledged its commitment to abide by principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, will be profound.

Russian actions in and against Ukraine and its territory are in direct violation of its OSCE commitments. Specifically, recent Russian actions violate the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 regarding refraining from the threat or use of force, respect for the inviolability of frontiers, and the territorial integrity of States. Russian actions violate the 1990 Charter of Paris, which reaffirms our common pledge to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State and that any violation of this commitment constitutes a violation of international law. Russia's actions are in breach of its 1994 Budapest Summit commitments, to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations and the Helsinki Final Act. Russia has placed its armed forces in violation of the 1996 Lisbon Summit document that any troops in the territory of another state are there with the freely expressed consent of the host state.  Furthermore, Russia's actions violate its commitments undertaken in the 1999 Istanbul Summit and Charter for European Security, and reaffirmed in the 2010 Astana Summit Declaration to respect the rights and sovereignty of other states, to refrain from the threat of force, and to allow other states to choose their own security and political arrangements, among other commitments. 

These obligations and commitments that the Russian Federation is directly violating are the very ones we have so often heard them make firm statements in support of upholding. We have heard those statements in the United Nations, as we have heard those statements here in the Permanent Council. In official Russian Federation statements in these organizations over the past several years, we’ve heard Russia’s Permanent Representatives and even its Foreign Minister remind us of the sanctity of the principle of territorial integrity in the Middle East, in Moldova, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Sri Lanka. This must also be true of Ukraine. These principles and commitments are universal and cannot be selectively applied by the Russian Federation. We’ve heard the Russian Federation’s Permanent Representative to the UN state that the work of UN Charter Chapter VIII regional organizations “shall make every effort to achieve pacific settlement of local disputes through regional arrangements,”  and that the work of these organizations “must harmoniously complement the principle of international law enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, including non-interference in internal affairs, the territorial integrity of States, the inadmissibility of the use or threat of use of force.” We participating States are gathered here today to call on Russia to be true to its words, to uphold its commitments, and to cease its violations of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Following a discussion between President Obama and President Putin yesterday, President Obama called on Russia to de-escalate tensions by withdrawing its forces back to bases in Crimea and to refrain from any interference elsewhere in Ukraine. We echo that call here today.    

Now just a moment ago we heard from the delegate of the Russian Federation a repeat of their concerns about the protection of Russian citizens, the treatment of minorities, and the security of Russian military installations and personnel in Crimea. An international monitoring mission is the right way to address these concerns.

Indeed, in their conversation, President Obama told President Putin that, if Russia has concerns about the treatment of ethnic Russian minority populations in Ukraine, the appropriate way to address them is peacefully through direct engagement with the government of Ukraine and through the dispatch of international observers. 

I would like to thank my colleague from Canada for Canada’s leadership and I look forward to working with her and others on what a monitoring mission can look like.

We call today for OSCE observers to be sent immediately to Ukraine. The U.S. will seek all possible means to support an OSCE observer mission, as should all participating States around this table. Those assembled here should make the decision today to move forward with plans and preparation for a monitoring mission immediately to: monitor and prevent conflict; ensure the protection of human rights of members of minorities; prevent border conflict; promote respect for territorial integrity; and to maintain peace, stability and security in the region. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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