There is an opportunity to put in place a lasting ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, said U.S. Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Daniel Baer.
Both sides took initial steps to implement the September 21 Framework Decision on Disengagement of Forces and Hardware withdrawing their forces from the contact line at Petrivske and Zolote. But as Ambassador Baer has stated, the agreement must be implemented in full to have a lasting impact.
Time is running out. That's why the United States calls for the following steps to be taken immediately: First, combined Russian-separatist forces must halt all attacks on Ukrainian military positions. Second, Russian officers assigned to the Joint Center for Command and Control have the responsibility to guarantee the security of OSCE monitors so they can verify progress toward disengagement. They need to fulfill this responsibility, said Ambassador Baer.
Combined Russian-separatist forces must stop blocking the movements of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission. "Threats and other hostile acts," said Ambassador Baer, "are completely unacceptable." Without full disengagement of forces and a comprehensive ceasefire, each day brings yet more suffering in the conflict area. According to the United Nations, fighting between May and August killed twice as many civilians as were lost in the first four months of the year. That number has fallen since the start of the September 1 ceasefire, but civilians will bear the costs if disengagement fails.
In Crimea, Russia continues to persecute the Tatar community. Indeed, there have been ten documented, unsolved disappearances of Tatars since the occupation began. The United States is troubled by the recent news that occupation authorities are pressuring the young children of imprisoned Crimean Tatar activist Emir Hussein Kuku to make statements against their father that could be used to strip him of his parental rights. In addition, there have been disturbing reports that the Russian FSB has been conducting mass interrogations of Mejlis members.
Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia ends its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea and returns it to Ukrainian control. The United States also joins the European Union in restating that sanctions against Russia for its aggression in eastern Ukraine will remain until Russia fully implements its Minsk commitments.