Three years ago today 298 innocent civilians were killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. The United States again extends its deepest sympathy to the families and friends of the victims.
The United States will continue to support the efforts of the Joint Investigation Team and urges other states to cooperate fully in order to ensure those responsible are brought to justice. As we and the Joint Investigation Team have said, Russian-led forces in eastern Ukraine fired the surface-to-air BUK missile – brought into sovereign Ukrainian territory from Russia – that took down Flight MH17. We welcome the team’s recent decision to grant jurisdiction to the Dutch courts for the prosecution of those responsible for this tragedy. We have full confidence in the ability of the Dutch criminal justice system to conduct a prosecution that is comprehensive, objective and just.
“The United States notes with regret that the June 1 renewed ceasefire commitment, timed to coincide with International Children’s Day, did not last even a full day. The SMM [Special Monitoring Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] reported 162 explosions and ceasefire violations throughout the evening of June 1 and into the morning of June 2. “Three years after Russia initiated this conflict, civilians continue to suffer. On the first day of June, a man and two women waiting at a bus stop in central Avdiyivka were gravely injured by an explosion; all three remain hospitalized. On June 5, the SMM reported that shrapnel from an artillery shell killed a mother and wounded her 9-year old son; the boy remains hospitalized.[…] Artillery attacks on critical infrastructure carried out by Russian-led separatists ensure civilians remain on the cusp of a humanitarian crisis….
“Ukraine is a sovereign state and will protect our national interest and, although the Ukrainian delegation does not wish to disrupt the adoption of the item 1.2 of the WHA70’s [the 70th World Health Assembly’s] agenda, condescending to Ukraine will no longer be tolerated. We must make our position crystal clear. This assembly has become part of the front line of Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine. The Russian Federation is waging an undeclared war against Ukraine that has resulted in some 10,000 people killed, more than 23,000 injured and millions displaced. “The candidacy of the Russian Federation to the post of the president of the WHA70 is the latest salvo in a concerted attack against Western institutions that have kept the peace for over 70 years and subsequently prolonged life expectancy and improved the quality of life worldwide.
“Today, we commemorate the 73rd anniversary of deportation of Crimean Tatars from their historic homeland – Crimea. We remember with compassion other ethnic groups of Crimea that faced this challenge: Germans, Greeks, Armenians, Bulgarians, Karaites and others. …Deportation is a crime without a statute of limitations and criminals who cold-bloodedly planned this act of genocide are not eligible for forgiveness. … “In 2014, shortly before the 70th anniversary of [this] deportation, post-Soviet but still authoritarian Russia annexed Ukrainian Crimea.
“RT aims to discredit the United States in a straightforward way. The Kremlin-funded television network – established in 2005, operating in English, Arabic and Spanish – doesn’t report on America and the West warts and all, but rather focuses single-mindedly on warts alone. … “In a post-fact, post-truth world, Vladimir Putin’s Russia revels in exploiting Western vulnerability. …It’s time to push back – with full force.
“To put it bluntly, Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia illegally occupies Crimea. Russia provoked and now supports a separatist movement in eastern Ukraine that did not previously exist. Russia is the aggressor, and Ukraine is the victim. Modern Ukraine represents the idea in Europe that each country has the sovereign ability to determine its own path and to decide with whom it has relations and how and by whom it is governed.
“I extend my deepest condolences to the family of the American paramedic who was killed when his vehicle hit a landmine in Ukraine over the weekend. The international personnel serving in the OSCE mission in Ukraine are working hard, at great personal risk, to keep an eye on the devastating and deteriorating conditions in that country and hold aggressors accountable. The car was driving in the Russian-backed separatist territory in eastern Ukraine. I therefore call upon Russia to provide full support for an investigation of this incident. More broadly, the onus is on Russia to ensure that there is full implementation of the Minsk agreements.
“What kind of country assassinates the opposition leader virtually on the steps of their legislature; puts hits out on citizens who speak out against them, even outside its borders; orders the persecution of government employees; foreign politicians and governments to cyber attacks; sends troops across sovereign borders and generally behaves like a 16th century dictatorship? The answer, of course, is Vladimir Putin’s Russia. … Abroad, the picture is just as bad. Russia commits war crimes in Syria and props up the Assad regime, while threatening NATO and annexing parts of Ukraine.
“… in this amorphous borderless global hybrid war, there is a hard military front line. It stretches from the Baltic to the Black Sea… On this hard military front line, there is an active regional war in Donbas. There the Kremlin is testing the resolve of the democratic West. Will the West sacrifice Ukraine in the hope of satisfying Russian revanchist neo-imperialism in the manner that Czechoslovakia was sacrificed by the West after the invasion of Sudetenland?
“…a resurgent Russia has turned from partner to antagonist. Countries along Russia’s periphery, especially Ukraine and Georgia, are under threat from Moscow’s malign influence and military aggression. “…Moscow intends to re-emerge as a global power, and views international norms such as the rule of law, democracy and human rights as components of a system designed to suppress it. Therefore, Russia seeks to undermine this international system and discredit those in the West who have created it. …