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Russia's Political Theater in Eastern Ukraine


Pro-Russian rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko prepares to casts his ballot during supreme council and presidential elections in the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014.

On November 2nd, Russia-backed separatists in the separatist-controlled portions of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions organized and carried out illegitimate “elections.”

On November 2nd, Russia-backed separatists in the separatist-controlled portions of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions organized and carried out illegitimate “elections.” This vote was illegal under Ukrainian electoral laws, contravened Ukraine’s constitution, and violated the September 5 Minsk Protocol signed by Ukraine, Russia and the separatists.

“Both Russia and its separatist proxies had agreed to honor Ukraine’s special status electoral law when they signed the Minsk Protocol of September 5,” said National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan. “They therefore violated the terms of that protocol with these so-called elections on November 2.”

U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Daniel B. Baer noted that “while the government of Ukraine and the international community have “arduously sought to secure a path towards Ukraine’s stable future, in contrast Russia chose to escalate once again.”

The so-called “election,” said Ambassador Baer, “marked the initiation of yet another phase of Russia’s escalatory, intolerable, and illegal actions in Ukraine. While the Russian Federation may claim to seek a peaceful outcome in Ukraine, the commitments it signs are rendered meaningless when it conducts actions that directly undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The United States cautions Russia against exploiting the illegitimate vote of November 2, “as a pretext to insert additional troops and military equipment into Ukraine, particularly in light of recent indications that the Russian military is moving forces back to the border along the separatist-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine,” said Ambassador Baer.

“We urge Russia and the separatists it backs to fulfill all of their commitments under the Minsk agreements. We reiterate the fundamental importance of safeguarding the stability of Ukraine.”

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