Remarks at a UN General Assembly Briefing on the Situation in Ukraine

Ambassador Kelly Craft
Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
February 20, 2020


Mr. President, thank you for organizing this important debate. The Trump administration reaffirms its unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We welcome this opportunity to discuss Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, including its ongoing violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the Donbas and occupied Crimea.

Ukraine is taking steps to strengthen its democracy, enact needed reforms, and deepen its Euro-Atlantic integration while defending itself against Russian aggression and hybrid warfare—and President Zelenskyy needs the support of UN Member States to achieve these goals.

The United States welcomes the recent detainee exchanges and the continuing work to improve humanitarian conditions for civilians suffering from the conflict on both sides of the line of contact. President Zelenskyy’s political courage, the steps he has taken to energize conflict diplomacy, and his clear commitment to finding a diplomatic resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine are to be applauded.

However, we note that six years of ongoing conflict in Ukraine has led to the deaths of more than 13,000 people, displaced 1.4 million, and left 3.4 million in need of humanitarian assistance. At the same time, Russia continues to ignore the call for a comprehensive ceasefire and stalls agreement on additional disengagement areas and crossing points along the Line of Contact.

These actions, and Russia’s aggression are flagrant violations of international norms, are the greatest threat to European security since the Balkan Wars of the 1990s.

The United States is deeply grateful for the work of regional multilateral institutions, such as the EU and the OSCE, to bring peace, prosperity, and stability to Ukraine. The OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission provides critical assessments of the situation on the ground and often works in dangerous conditions. We call on Russia to allow OSCE and UN monitors access to all of Ukraine’s territory, including Crimea, to document the realities of life in these areas.

The United States will continue to press for UN attention and the international spotlight on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. In November, we co-sponsored the Third Committee resolution on the human rights situation in Crimea. In December, we supported UN resolutions condemning Russian abuses and the military buildup in Russian-occupied Crimea. The fact that both resolutions were adopted by this very body confirms broad international community support condemning Russian aggression in Ukraine.

We reiterate our deep concern about growing restrictions on the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Crimea. These include the more than 80 Crimeans wrongfully imprisoned for their political views, and the unjustified raids, detentions, and other acts of intimidation against members of the Crimean Tatar and the ethnic Ukrainian communities and opponents of the occupation.

The United States calls on Russia to immediately follow through on its commitments under the Minsk agreements—to withdraw its forces and equipment, stop supporting its proxies, and respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in eastern Ukraine.

President Trump fully supports Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally-recognized borders, including its territorial waters. We will not accept anything less than the full restoration of Ukraine’s control over all its territory, including Crimea.

Our unwavering commitment to Ukraine continues, including recently when we coordinated with the EU and Canada to implement new sanctions designations against Russian-backed Crimean officials and an entity operating in Crimea without authorization from the Ukrainian government. The Trump administration will maintain these and our other sanctions against Russia until the Russian government returns control of Crimea to Ukraine and fully implements the Minsk agreements.

And if I may repeat what Secretary Pompeo said on January 31st, “today I am here with a clear message. The United States sees that the Ukrainian struggle for freedom, democracy, and prosperity as a valiant one. Our commitment to its support will never waiver.”

Thank you.