Good afternoon everybody. We’ve just come from an emergency meeting and consultations of the Security Council on Ukraine.
It is important that the Council came together today on this subject because this is a critical moment for the future of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. The United States stands with the Ukrainian people in determining their own destiny, their own government, their own future. We are gravely disturbed by reports of Russian military deployments into the Crimea. The United States calls upon Russia to pull back the military forces that are being built up in the region, to stand down, and to allow the Ukrainian people the opportunity to pursue their own government, create their own destiny and to do so freely without intimidation or fear. We call upon all states to respect the sovereignty of Ukraine. As various political actors begin making decisions about what role they will play in shaping that future, the international community has an opportunity and a responsibility to stand firmly with the people of Ukraine and, in doing so, to prevent unnecessary violence. Given the present turbulence, it is useful for the Council to reiterate certain principles, including the unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine, the need for peaceful dialogue and the prevention of further violence, and the fact that Ukraine’s future can only be determined by the Ukrainian people.
In recent days, the world has borne witness to the overwhelming support that Ukraine’s new government has received from all major parties within the country. At the same time, we recognize that this newly formed government will require international assistance as it tries to correct the economic failures and political inequities of the past administration. A key to doing this, and to Ukraine’s stability and economic security, depends on it having healthy relations with all of its neighbors, including Russia and the European Union.
The United States stands with the Ukrainian people at this remarkable moment and welcomes the formation of the new government; we are pleased that the cabinet is both inclusive and representative and we congratulate the members of the Rada and the Ukrainian people on their historic achievement.
The new government needs to continue its outreach to minority groups in order to help calm the situation and affirm its commitment to protecting minority rights. Clearly this is a message that needs especially to be heard in the Crimea, where we have seen actions and heard rhetoric that could threaten Ukraine’s unity and stability. To underline this point, let me be clear that the United States would condemn any move to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty or territorial integrity, which we expect all states to respect. The best way for the people of Crimea to achieve their goals is to work peacefully within the established political system. To this end, the United States calls for an urgent international mediation mission to the Crimea to begin to deescalate the situation, and facilitate productive and peaceful political dialogue among all Ukrainian parties.
We encourage all Ukrainians to pursue their aspirations through peaceful dialogue and nonviolent political activity in combination [with] the new government’s efforts – with appropriate international assistance -- to bring about economic recovery and renewed hope for the future.
Thank you and I’d be happy to take a couple questions.
Reporter: So, who should be involved in this international mediation mission? And has the US communicated directly to Russia its concerns about - that it’s gravely disturbed by this report and that it wants Russia will pull back?
Ambassador Power: First, let me say that the President of the United States will be speaking on the issue of Ukraine later today. So you’ll hear directly from him. In terms of the mediation mission that we think is urgently needed, I think what’s important is that it be seen as independent, credible. Obviously the Secretary General has dispatched an envoy, Robert Serry, to Ukraine. He remains in Ukraine; he’s a former ambassador to Ukraine, as many of you know. The OSCE has historic connections, obviously, to many, many parts of Ukraine and to the Ukrainian people. What we think is important, again, is that there is a mission at a time when the crisis seems to be escalating rather than deescalating. And we think that mission be carried in service of the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and unity of Ukraine.
Reporter: Can I ask you how you would describe the Russian military movements in Crimea? Do these count as an act of aggression?
Ambassador Power: I’m not going to characterize the movements – again, you’ll be hearing from the president of the United States shortly – beyond to reiterate the point I’ve already made, which is that we are deeply concerned by these reports, deeply concerned by what we see as facts on the ground. And we urge Russia to join us in helping Ukraine get on – back on a path to a brighter future.
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