It’s been more than three years since thousands of Ukrainians first came together in Kyiv’s central square - the Maidan - to protest the refusal of then-president Viktor Yanukovych to heed their desire for democratic reform, rule of law, and European integration. This gathering ended with Yanukovych fleeing Ukraine, after the failure of his government’s attempts to suppress the will of the people by force.
In a statement marking the anniversary of Ukraine’s “Revolution of Dignity,” State Department Acting Spokesperson Mark Toner praised “the remarkable progress” Ukraine has made since that time “to fulfill the promise of the Maidan.”
He urged Ukraine’s leaders “to strengthen efforts to fight corruption and continue the political and economic reforms that will honor those who gave their lives to secure a better, more democratic future for Ukraine,” and he pledged that the United States will continue to be a partner in such efforts.
In an address at the United Nations Security Council, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley also spoke of the strength of the Ukrainian people, saying the demonstrators who urged an end to corruption and demanded freedom and democracy more than three years ago “succeeded in creating a new Ukraine.”
As she noted, since that time, Russia has tried to thwart the new direction of the Ukrainian people: by occupying and attempting to annex Crimea; and by arming, financing and organizing separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, leading to a devastating conflict that has cost more than 10,000 lives.
Ambassador Haley pointed to the pictures of destruction that have emerged recently from the town of Avdiviivka as clear evidence of the consequences of Russia’s ongoing interference in Ukraine.
“The United States,” said Ambassador Haley, “thinks it’s possible to have a better relationship with Russia. After all,” she noted, “we confront many of the same threats. But greater cooperation with Russia cannot come at the expense of the security of our European friends and allies.”
She urged Russia to “show a commitment to peace – by fully implementing the commitments under the Minsk agreement and ending its occupation of Crimea.” She said the United States and the EU will retain sanctions on Russia until those commitments are met, and that the separate Crimea–related sanctions imposed by the United States will remain “until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine.”
The United States,” said Ambassador Haley, “continues to stand with the Ukrainian people.”