The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, is an indispensable pillar to maintain peace and stability in Europe and Eurasia. "Of all the challenges confronting the OSCE today," U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at the recent OSCE Ministerial Council, "none is more important or vexing than the situation in Ukraine."
The United States is committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. Secretary Tillerson called for the "full implementation of the Minsk agreements," adding, "we will never accept Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea." Furthermore, he said, "Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine."
The United States joins its European partners in maintaining sanctions until Russia withdraws its forces from the Donbas and meets its Minsk commitments. Secretary Tillerson noted that "While Ukraine is taking steps to abide by these agreements – and it must continue to do so – Russia is not." Indeed, more civilians were killed in 2017 than in 2016, and in November, ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk were up significantly, according to the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission, or SMM, to Ukraine.
"We should be clear about the source of this violence," Secretary Tillerson stressed. "Russia is arming, training, leading, and fighting alongside anti-government forces." The United States calls on Russia and its proxies to end its harassment, intimidation, and its attacks on the SMM.
The United States honors the sacrifice of Joseph Stone, an American paramedic killed while on patrol in eastern Ukraine in April 2017, and commends the bravery and commitment of the SMM monitors serving in the field today.
The United States believes the OSCE remains the best means of ending the crisis in Ukraine as well as addressing many other issues facing the region. For this reason, the United States will maintain its strong support for the OSCE and reject efforts to weaken it, its institutions, or its field missions. Secretary Tillerson urged all member nations "to act on our recommendations. . .for a more peaceful and prosperous Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia."