November 27, 2015


“Even as we focus on ISIL, we must not forget that barely two years ago, almost 1 million Ukrainians stood for days and weeks in the snow on the Maidan to demand that their government give them what we have: human dignity, democracy, clean government, justice. When [Viktor] Yanukovych turned his back on Europe, Ukrainians would not be denied their choice. But that was unacceptable to both Yanukovych and to the Kremlin, which met the Ukrainian people’s demand with occupation, tanks, Buk missiles, support for the separatists, sabotage, and propaganda.

“Today, 93 percent of Ukraine survives as a democratic state in association with Europe because Ukrainians fought and died for their rights, and our nations stood with the people of Ukraine. We have given political, economic and security support; we imposed successively harsh rounds of sanctions to bring Russia to the negotiating table; and we supported a diplomatic resolution to the conflict via the Minsk agreements and the Normandy talks led by Germany and France.

“Now we have to help Ukraine see it through. We must maintain pressure on Russia and its separatist proxies to complete the unfinished commitments of Minsk, including: the return of all hostages; full humanitarian access for U.N. agencies, NGOs, and government relief agencies; free, fair elections in Donbas under the Ukrainian Constitution monitored by ODIHR [Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights]; the removal of all foreign forces and weapons; and the return of the international border to Ukraine. Sanctions are an essential tool for holding Russia accountable: they must be rolled over until Minsk is fully implemented. And we must keep our Crimea-related sanctions in place until Russia returns the peninsula to Ukraine.

“And, because the best antidote to Russian aggression and malign influence is Ukraine’s success as a democratic, prosperous, European state, the Ukrainian government must continue to live up to its promises to its own people and maintain the trust of the international community.

“Much difficult work remains to clean up endemic corruption throughout government and society, at every level; to stabilize the economy; break the hold of corrupt state enterprises and oligarchs; and reform the justice system.

“But, the will is there. Ukraine’s own people are demanding a faster pace of change. We help them most when we make clear that our own sustained support depends on Ukraine continuing to clean up its own house.”

– U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, speaking on November 17 at the Berlin Security Conference.