A Critical Moment for Ukraine

U.S. Department of State - Washington, D.C.

The United States has been clear that the Ukrainian people deserve the opportunity to determine their own future and that we stand for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and democratic future of Ukraine. Today, President Barack Obama said, “…Together with our European allies, we have urged an end to the violence and encouraged Ukrainians to pursue a course in which they stabilize their country, forge a broad-based government and move to elections this spring.”

The President continued, “…My Administration has been in daily communication with Russian officials, and we’ve made clear that they can be part of an international community’s effort to support the stability and success of a united Ukraine going forward, which is not only in the interest of The people of Ukraine and the international community, but also in Russia’s interest.  However, we are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine.  Russia has a historic relationship with Ukraine, including cultural and economic ties, and a military facility in Crimea, but any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing, which is not in the interest of Ukraine, Russia, or Europe.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also addressed the situation in Ukraine. During a press conference after his meeting with Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Holguin in Washington, Secretary Kerry said:

“…I talked this morning with Foreign Minister Lavrov about the reports we are getting about Russian presence and what it may be choosing to do. And we raised the issue of the airports, raised the issue of armored vehicles, raised the issue of personnel in various places. And while we were told that they are not engaging in any violation of the sovereignty and do not intend to, I nevertheless made it clear that that could be misinterpreted at this moment, and that there are enough tensions that it is important for everybody to be extremely careful not to inflame the situation and not to send the wrong messages.

“He reaffirmed to me that President Putin is committed and that as a matter of policy they do not intend to violate the sovereignty of Ukraine, but that there are obviously interests in Crimea, which were reflected in their local Rada yesterday where people feel a strong attachment to and affinity for Russia, obviously. This is the tension that exists within Ukraine itself. There’s an east-west tension right within Ukraine. And I emphasized to him our desire to diffuse these tensions, to work very constructively, to bring Ukraine together, keep it — to keep the respect for its sovereignty and its territorial integrity. And he reiterated their intention not to violate it. Now at the same time as we were talking, former President Yanukovych was holding a press conference and he articulated during that that he did not want to ask Russia for assistance and that he asked for the respect for the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting and consultations on the events unfolding in Ukraine. Afterwards, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said, “…This is a critical moment for the future of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. The United States stands with the Ukrainian people in determining their own destiny, their own government, their own future.”

- Cross posted from DipNote, the official blog of the U.S. Department of State

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