Russia continues to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, despite the commitments it made in the Minsk protocols in September.
In those protocols, Russia, Ukraine, and Russia-backed separatists agreed to an immediate cease-fire in eastern Ukraine; restoration of Ukrainian control of its side of the international border; monitoring of the border by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE); withdrawal of foreign forces, mercenaries and equipment from Ukraine; and the release of hostages and prisoners. As U.S. Representative to the United Nations Samantha Power said at a meeting of the Security Council, “On none of these have Russia or the separatists lived up to their word.”
Earlier this month, the OSCE reported dozens of “heavy weapons and tanks…containing personnel in dark green uniforms without insignia” moving through territory in eastern Ukraine; and NATO observed columns of Russian equipment, including Russian tanks, artillery, and Russian air defense systems, entering Ukraine. “Russia has negotiated a peace plan, and then systematically undermined it at every step,” said Ambassador Power. “It talks of peace, but it keeps fueling war.”
After the recent G-20 meeting of the world’s largest economies in Brisbane Australia, President Barack Obama said at a press briefing, “If [Russian President Vladimir Putin] continues down the path he is on …then the isolation that Russia is currently experiencing will continue.” The sanctions that have been imposed by the United States and the European Union because of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, he said, are “biting pretty good,” and U.S. and European diplomatic teams are “constantly looking at mechanisms in which to turn up additional pressure as necessary.”
”It is not our preference to see Russia isolated the way it is,” Mr. Obama emphasized. “We would prefer a Russia that is fully integrated with the global economy; that is thriving on behalf of its people; that can once again engage with us in cooperative efforts around global challenges.”
But, he added, “We’re also very firm on the need to uphold core international principles. And one of those principles is that you don’t…finance proxies and support them in ways that break up a country that has mechanisms for democratic elections.”