The weekend of February 21-22 marked the one- year anniversary of the culmination of the Maidan protests in Ukraine. For months, and in the face of violence, Ukrainians had demonstrated against the refusal of the government of then-president Viktor Yanukovych to heed the will and desire of the people for democratic reform, the rule of law, and European integration. Ultimately, Yanukovych fled the country and the Ukrainian parliament voted in a new government.
In a statement commemorating the Maidan anniversary, Secretary of State John Kerry praised the protestors who “stood up against injustice and sparked the birth of a new Ukraine,” and praised the Ukrainian people for “striving for a democratic and European future in the face of adversity and Russian aggression.”
Over the past year, that aggression has resulted in Russia’s occupation of Crimea and Russian backing of the separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine. It was on display again in recent days when the Russia-backed separatists kept up their violations of the February 12 ceasefire agreement that had been endorsed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The ceasefire was supposed to be the first step in an attempt to implement the Minsk agreements signed by Ukraine, Russia, and the separatists in September.
On a visit to London, Secretary of State John Kerry denounced the “absolutely brazen and cynical process” Russia has engaged in since the ceasefire was supposedly in effect. “One of the most egregious violations is obviously the assault, the full-scale assault on the city of Debaltseve and the violations of the ceasefire in the resupply of the separatists by Russia. Let me be clear,” said Mr. Kerry. “We know to a certainty what Russia has been providing, and no amount of propaganda is capable of hiding these actions.”
Secretary Kerry called Russia’s actions “simply unacceptable.”
If they continue, he said, “there will be further consequences, including added strains on Russia’s already troubled economy. We’re not going to sit back and allow this kind of cynical, craven behavior to continue at the expense of the sovereignty and integrity of another nation. I am confident,” Secretary Kerry added, “that the United States and the United Kingdom and others are prepared to stand up and take the measure necessary to add to the cost of these actions.”