Right of Reply to Russian Federation on the Situation in Ukraine

As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer to the Permanent Council
Vienna, July 15, 2014

Thank you, Madam Chair, I just wanted to respond to some points made by our distinguished Russian colleague.

First of all, I am stunned to hear the Russian Federation say that it totally rejects that Russia has violated any of the commitments in the Helsinki Final Act or “any other principles of international law.” It would seem that this is – I can’t believe that they actually believe this; if they do, it’s a kind of verbalized delusion that is unusual in diplomatic exchange. I’ll just remind everyone around this table that the question was raised in the UN General Assembly: a hundred members of the international community spoke out affirmatively in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and against Russia’s clear violation of that. On the other side, were ten countries that supported Russia. They included Syria, the DPRK, Zimbabwe, Sudan – not really countries that anybody regards as authorities in international law, but rather “very good bad examples” of violators of international law. This is not a credible support for Russia’s position.

Second, I’d like to acknowledge the Russian representative’s announcement of a trip organized for Defense attaches. I’m sure they will see whatever the Russian Federation wants them to see. I’d just like to remind everyone that there have been long-standing in this forum–and in the FSC– requests from multiple participating States for voluntary, invited Vienna-Document inspections in the border regions. They have been rejected.  Russia has also failed to uphold its obligations under the Vienna Document to participate in meetings to dispel concerns. V-Doc mission invitations have not been forthcoming. So while this a modest “gesture”, it comes very late in the game.

Third, I’d like to just correct the record: the United States,  as the Chairmanship – I think, with some consternation even, will aver – has been a strong supporter of urgently moving forward with any incremental monitoring of the Russian side of the  border, subsequent to the July 2 joint statement by the ministers in Berlin. We have urged publicly, in this forum last Thursday, twice in two different statements, we have urged privately in our conversations with the Swiss Chairmanship, that if the Russian Federation is ready to move we will support that. So we do support the initiative to create a mandate to allow monitors on the Russian side of the border. In fact, we think that there’s no reason to wait for the assessment mission. We didn’t have an assessment mission for the SMM, we could send out monitors, an advance team, right away: we can adopt a decision to do that.

Now, the way that the decision is being drafted right now: it is only two border posts. It is a modest incremental step, that doesn’t mean it is not a step, but let’s be clear about it. And again, the timing is unusual. But we support it, and we will not stand in the way of it moving forward.

In closing, I just want to say, I’ve heard often repeated in the last 24 to 48 hours from official statements by the Russian Federation that these gestures, recently vocalized, are “gestures of good-will”.

Russian “good-will” comes very late and very small. Neither of these will be a substitute for the major steps that Russia needs to take in order to avoid further consequences, and that Russia needs to take in order to have people believe Russia when it says it wants a de-escalation of the situation.

Russia needs to cease the support to the Russian-supported separatist fighters in Ukraine, it needs to cease sending arms and fighters and money across the border to support them, it needs to support the ceasefire, a ceasefire that is observed by all sides, it needs to use its influence to free hostages.

The modest steps we can support, but they are not substitutes for the more robust action that is needed.

Thank you, Madam Chair.