Russia’s ongoing hostility in Eastern Ukraine and occupation of Crimea is compromising the shared vision of a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace, said U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
American and NATO support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity remains steadfast. "We do not, and will not, accept Russian efforts to change the borders of territory of Ukraine," said Secretary Tillerson on his recent trip to NATO headquarters.
The United States, he said, thanks "Germany and France for their determination to find a diplomatic solution to the ongoing crisis in Eastern Ukraine under the Normandy format. We will continue to support their work to accelerate the implementation of the Minsk agreements." In the meantime, American sanctions on Russia will remain in place.
The United States calls on Russia to exercise its influence over the separatists in Eastern Ukraine to put a stop to the violence, end the campaign of attacks and intimidation against Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, monitors, and facilitate their access to the area.
"Russia must understand," said Secretary Tillerson, "there is no basis to move forward on the political aspects of the Minsk agreements until there is visible, verifiable, and irreversible improvement in the security situation."
Moreover, he said, Crimea-related sanctions must remain in place until Russia returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine.
The United States continues to urge Ukraine to redouble its efforts to implement challenging reforms, including uprooting corruption, increasing transparency in the judicial system, strengthening the banking sector, and pursuing corporate governance reform and the privatization of state-owned enterprises.
Even in the face of ongoing Russian aggression, Ukraine is committed to reform and modernize its armed forces according to NATO standards by 2020. In support of this effort, the United States has committed over $600 million in security assistance over the last three years.
Together, said Secretary Tillerson, "we will stand by Ukraine as it defends its sovereign territory, strengthens its economy, and continues to implement reforms. As President Trump has said, every country has the right to chart its own future, and we must help the people of Ukraine maintain that sacred right."