Thank you Mr. President.
The United States also condemns Russia’s decision to grant expedited Russian citizenship to Ukrainians living in the Russia-controlled Donbas.
Through this highly provocative action, Russia is clearly intensifying its assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Mr. President, Donbas is Ukraine, and the people there are Ukrainian—regardless of which language they prefer to speak. Conferring citizenship en masse to the citizens of another state undermines and violates the principle of sovereignty. Russia’s actions subvert the principles on which the Minsk agreements are based: that the Donbas is an integral part of Ukraine and the Ukrainian government must reestablish its control over this territory.
Mr. President, Russia signed the Minsk agreements in 2014 and 2015, and President Poroshenko and President-elect Zelenskyy have reaffirmed that these agreements are the best vehicle for ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
It is unacceptable that Russia would take steps to stymie the peace process just four days after Ukraine’s presidential elections. We welcome President-elect Zelenskyy’s expressed commitment to implement the Minsk agreements and redouble efforts to support Ukrainian citizens living in territories controlled by Russia.
Mr. President, if Russia were truly interested in the well-being of Russian speaking citizens of Ukraine, it would seize this moment to chart a new course in Russia-Ukraine relations, and seek to work with President Poroshenko and his successor to promote peace. Instead, Russia further fuels a conflict that has already claimed over 13,000 lives.
Despite this deeply disturbing development, we stand ready to support the efforts of Ukraine to restore Ukrainian government control over all territory within its internationally recognized borders. U.S. Special Representative Kurt Volker is prepared to engage intensively with Ukraine, Russia, and our partners here at the UN to deescalate the conflict and advance Minsk implementation, including through an international security force that would facilitate the implementation of the Minsk agreements.
Mr. President, we once again affirm that our Donbas-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia withdraws its forces from eastern Ukraine and implements the Minsk agreements. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine.
I thank you, Mr. President.