Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in Ukraine

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
October 30, 2018


Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you also, Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo and Assistant Secretary-General Muller, for briefing the Council today.

The United States joins with others in condemning the announcement by the so-called “Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics” that they intend to hold what they are calling “elections” on November 11. These actions are clearly illegitimate and have no basis in Ukrainian law.

Mr. President, these sham elections, staged by Russia, run directly counter to efforts to implement the Minsk peace agreements. The elections also obstruct and undermine efforts to end the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has killed over 10,000 people and causes more casualties daily. The Minsk agreements state that the OSCE must supervise elections, which are to be held in accordance with Ukrainian law and OSCE standards. The November 11 balloting will satisfy none of these conditions.

The Minsk agreements also call for the disarmament of illegal groups and withdrawal of foreign armed formations from eastern Ukraine. Russia, however, is using these so-called elections to achieve the opposite – it seeks to bolster the positions of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” and the “Luhansk People’s Republic.” Both entities are inseparable from the illegal armed groups controlled by Moscow.

We also express our concern over the humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine, with 3.4 million Ukrainians requiring assistance and over 1.5 million internally displaced. The humanitarian crisis will continue until a ceasefire is implemented and basic commitments under the Minsk agreements are met. We encourage all parties to allow affected Ukrainians to have unfettered access to humanitarian aid, government services, and to guard against further civilian losses and damage to critical infrastructure.

Mr. President, beyond eastern Ukraine, Russia’s occupation of the Crimean peninsula and its aggressive actions in the Sea of Azov, where Russia is harassing and obstructing international shipping bound for Ukraine’s ports, further demonstrate Moscow’s blatant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and readiness to undermine regional stability.

We greatly appreciate the efforts of France and Germany in the Normandy Format to push for implementation of the Minsk agreements. Unfortunately, Russia continues to impede the peace process and is, we believe, deliberately stalling in these discussions and in talks between Special Representative Volker and Russian Presidential Advisor Vladislav Surkov. We call on Russia to cease its obstructionist activities and its artificial delays.

Mr. President, the United States reiterates our strong condemnation of Russia’s destabilizing actions in Ukraine. We will continue to impose sanctions against Russia for its action in the Donbas and Crimea until it fully implements the Minsk agreements and returns the Crimean peninsula to Ukraine.

Thank you.