I came to today’s meeting with a clear sense that the United States has hope for the possibility of near-term implementation of the Geneva Statement. In fact, we had hoped that would happen over the weekend, because that was what was agreed.
I think it’s important for people to remember where the Geneva Statement came from: it came against the backdrop of an illegal armed incursion into the sovereign territory of another state, an illegal occupation of another state, and ongoing coordination and active engagement in fomenting instability in another state.
Upon discussion, the parties agreed that they all wanted to see de-escalation, and they agreed on some initial steps that could be seen as alternatives to escalation, and alternatives to imposing greater costs for [Russia’s] illegal actions. As I said, this was a short-term plan and the goal was, in a practical way, to take that political commitment that came from the Russian Federation, the United States, the European Union, and Ukraine – to take that political commitment to de-escalation and to see what could be done.
Coming into this meeting, we were aware of a number of steps taken immediately by the government of Ukraine and by others to move toward implementing in the near-term the Geneva Statement. We were also aware that the Russian Federation had not taken the steps that it needed to take in order for all of the Geneva Statement to be successful. The fact is that, without the Russian Federation’s constructive engagement, the implementation of the Geneva agreement is not possible. It’s a necessary ingredient. It’s something they committed to do. Unfortunately we are dependent on their doing it if the Geneva Statement is to be implemented. They have heretofore not taken the steps that are needed from Russia in order for that to be implemented.
So I came into today’s meeting hoping that I would be able to report back to Washington that what we heard from the Russian Federation was constructive engagement and a continued intention to support the implementation of the Geneva Statement, to which the foreign minister of Russia signed up only four days ago. Instead what we’ve seen since the Russian Federation made that commitment is continued negative actions on the ground by those who have connections to or our coordinated by, funded by, equipped by, we can argue over what the extent of each detail is, the Russian Federation. We’ve seen over the last four days a lack of public statements supporting implementation. And today we hear continued dissembling and specious accusations about “hotheads in the government in Kyiv”, etc.
That certainly is the prerogative of the Russian Federation–to deliver more of the same. But it’s once again at odds with the commitment of the Russian Federation to seek de-escalation. De-escalation is not possible without the Russian Federation breaking with what it has conducted over the last few months and moving towards taking constructive steps. And so I regret that I will have to report back that today’s intervention by the Russian Federation was more of the same, and calls into question the sincerity of Foreign Minister Lavrov’s commitment and the possibilities for near-term implementation of the Geneva Statement. We remain committed to that as a short-term plan; it is the right set of steps, but it cannot happen without the Russian Federation.