Ongoing Violations of OSCE Principles and Commitments by the Russian Federation and the Situation in Ukraine

As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer to the Permanent Council
Vienna, July 17, 2014

Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

The United States continues to strongly condemn Russia’s ongoing support for armed separatists in eastern Ukraine. While Ukraine continues its efforts to build a peaceful, unified, and stable nation, Russian-backed separatists continue to thwart peace efforts. Despite President Poroshenko’s commitment to implement a mutual ceasefire and his demonstrated flexibility to find a solution, Russian-backed separatists have refused multiple proposals from Kyiv for a new round of talks and are, in fact, escalating the level of violence through their use of heavy weaponry, including truck-mounted artillery systems and surface-to-air missiles.

Mr. Chairperson, we all heard the distinguished representative of the Russian Federation assert on Tuesday that Russia had in “no way” violated any of the provisions of the Helsinki Final Act or any principles of international law with respect to its actions in Ukraine. This is not borne out by the facts on the ground. While Russia says it seeks peace, its actions do not match its rhetoric.  We have no evidence that Russia’s support for the separatists has ceased. In fact, given its continued provocations in Ukraine, President Obama yesterday approved a new set of sanctions on some of Russia’s largest companies and financial institutions. The President has repeatedly made clear, including to Mr. Putin himself, that Russia must halt the flow of weapons and fighters across the border into Ukraine, that Russia must urge separatists to release their hostages and support a ceasefire, that Russia needs to pursue internationally mediated talks and support meaningful monitoring of the border. As the President said, along with many of our European partners, we have emphasized our preference to resolve this issue diplomatically, but that we have to see concrete actions, and not just words, that Russia is, in fact, committed to trying to end this conflict. So far, Russia has failed to take any of the steps. Instead, Russia’s support for the separatists and violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty have continued. On top of the sanctions we have already imposed, we are therefore designating selected sectors of the Russian economy as eligible for sanctions. We are freezing the assets of several Russian defense companies. And we are blocking new financing of some of Russia’s most important banks and energy companies.

Meanwhile, Ukraine continues its good faith efforts to unify the country. President Poroshenko outlined a comprehensive peace plan and subsequently implemented a unilateral ten day ceasefire. Yet, Russia and its proxies in Donetsk and Luhansk did not act on this opportunity for peace. Hours after the ceasefire began, Russia-backed separatists wounded nine Ukrainian service members. During the course of the ten day ceasefire, Russia-backed separatists attacked Ukrainian security forces over 100 times, killing 28 service members. The separatists continue to hold more than 150 hostages, mostly civilians, including teachers and journalists. Separatists have so far refused all offers by the Ukrainian government to engage, even via videoconference.

We again urge Russia to immediately and actively support the implementation of the Ukrainian government’s peace place. We call on the Russian government to halt its material support for the separatists, to use its influence with the separatists to push them to lay down their arms and abide by a ceasefire, and to release all hostages. We also call on Russia to end its occupation of Crimea, which remains a part of Ukraine. Russia’s commitment to peace in Ukraine will be judged by its actions, not its words.

Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.