“…let me underscore that those who claim that our trans-Atlantic partnership is unraveling – or in fact, those who hope that it might unravel – could not be more wrong. They forget – or they never understood – why we came together in the first place: not to just to sail along in the best of times – but to have each other’s backs when the times are tough. They forget, as well, that the ties that bind us are not some kind of fragile strings of momentary convenience. They are rugged, time-tested cords of democratic values – liberty, decency, justice, rule of law.
“And nowhere is that more clear than in our joint, unwavering support for a democratic Ukraine. Our European partners, you, deserve enormous credit for showing the resolve you have shown and the common purpose you have summoned, in order to stand up to Russia’s repeated aggression. And I am confident that Europe and the United States are going to continue to stand united, both in sustaining sanctions for as long as they are necessary and in providing needed assistance to Ukraine until the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine is protected through the full implementation of the Minsk agreement.
“Now, again and again, we have made it clear, and I make it clear again here today: Sanctions are not an end unto themselves. Witness what we succeeded in doing in the context of the Iran nuclear agreement. But we shouldn’t forget why they were imposed in the first place: to stand up for Ukraine’s fundamental rights – rights of international norms that have been accepted ever since World War II, that were part of what that great battle was about. Russia has a simple choice: fully implement Minsk or continue to face economically damaging sanctions. And the path to sanctions relief is clear: withdraw weapons and troops from the Donbas; ensure that all Ukrainian hostages are returned; allow full humanitarian access to occupied territories, which, by the way, is required by international law and by several United Nations resolutions; support free, fair and internationally monitored elections in the Donbas under Ukrainian law; and restore Ukraine’s control of its side of the international border, which belongs to it. Put plainly, Russia can prove by its actions that it will respect Ukraine’s sovereignty, just as it insists on respect for its own.
“By the same token, after two difficult years, Ukrainians still have work to do as well. And President Poroshenko who is here knows that and accepts that. Neither the people of Ukraine nor their partners in the international community believe that enough has happened in Ukraine either. Ukraine has responsibilities with respect to Minsk – and it’s critical that Kyiv upholds its end of the bargain. But Ukraine’s democratic potential is clearly far brighter today than it was when we met here several years ago, far brighter even than it was before the brave protests in the Maidan. And with our transatlantic support, 2016 has all the potential possible – all the groundwork laid through the good work of Germany and France and the Normandy format and though the support of other countries – to be able to make 2016 the year that Ukraine proves reform can triumph over corruption. And we call on all of the country’s elected leaders to demonstrate the unity, the integrity, and the courage that their people are demanding. …”
– U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking at the 2016 Munich Security Conference in Munich on February 13.