Thank you, Mr. President. We meet today to express our collective judgment on the legality of the Russian Federation’s military intervention in and occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea region. The resolution before us is about one issue and one issue only. And that is affirming our commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Through it, we make clear our ongoing support for the fundamental idea that borders are not mere suggestions.
At the same time, this Resolution expresses the desire of the international community to see a peaceful outcome to the dispute between Ukraine and Russia and stresses the importance of maintaining an inclusive political dialogue that reflects every segment of Ukrainian society.
We have always said that Russia had legitimate interests in Ukraine; it has been disheartening in the extreme to see Russia carry on as if Ukrainians have no legitimate interests in Crimea, when Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Self-determination is a value that all of us here today hail. We do so while recognizing the critical, foundational importance of national and international law. Coercion cannot be the means by which a self determines. The chaos that would ensue is not a world that any of us can afford; it is a dangerous world. We echo the views expressed by all regions of the world these last weeks calling for a de-escalation of tensions and an electoral process in Ukraine that will allow the people of that country – in all of their diversity -- to choose their leaders, freely, fairly, and without coercion.
Speaking at The Hague two days ago, President Obama said that “if the Ukrainian people are allowed to make their own decisions, their decision will likely be that they want to have a relationship with Europe and they want to have a relationship with Russia, and that this is not a zero sum game.”
Ukraine was wise to bring its concerns before this body. It is wise to seek our backing for the preservation of its rights, which are also all of our rights – to have our territory and independence respected. Ukraine is justified in seeking our votes in reaffirming and protecting its borders. It is justified in asking us not to recognize the new status quo that the Russian Federation has tried to create with its military. Ukraine merits our commendations for the restraint it has shown and the positive steps it has taken to prevent a further escalation of the crisis. And Ukraine deserves our full support in trying to persuade Russia to end its isolation and to move from a policy of unilateral confrontation and aggressive acts to a good faith diplomatic effort informed by facts, facilitated by dialogue, and based on law.
We urge you to vote “yes” on a resolution that enshrines the centrality of territorial integrity and that calls for a diplomatic, not a military solution, to this crisis.
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