Thank you Mr. President, and thank you, Under Secretary General Feltman, for your comments today and for your engagement on the Ukrainian issue, including your trips to Ukraine.
Mr. President, Ukrainians turned out in historic numbers on Sunday, uniting to express their political will to choose freely their own future. The United States congratulates the people of Ukraine for voting in large numbers to express their clear desire for a united, democratic, and peaceful Ukraine. The election reaffirms Ukraine's commitment to the democratic process. We look forward to working with President-elect Poroshenko and the people of Ukraine to build on this victory for democracy in order to create a more unified, secure, transparent and prosperous Ukraine.
We note the importance of the OSCE’s judgment that the election was largely in line with Ukraine's international commitments and demonstrated respect for fundamental freedoms in the vast majority of the country. Thousands of independent electoral observers, international and domestic, supported this OSCE determination. We thank the OSCE’s Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, European Parliament, and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, and the other international and non-governmental organizations and observers who contributed to the effort.
But, Mr. President, as we celebrate the successful May 25th presidential election, we must also condemn the actions of those who sought to derail the voting in parts of eastern Ukraine. In particular, we condemn the actions of pro-Russian armed separatists operating in Donetsk and Luhansk who attacked District Election Commissions and polling stations, and intimidated election workers, notably through abductions, death threats, forced entry into private homes, seizure of equipment and election materials, and the shooting of a candidate proxy. These illegal actions constituted attempts to obstruct the election and to interfere with citizens’ rights to participate.
Yet even in these two regions of the east where pro-Russian separatist groups sought to disenfranchise the population, some courageous Ukrainians endeavored to vote. The United States commends the resolve of the Ukrainian people to participate despite these threats, provocations, and violence. We take particular note of the Central Election Commission, which established special accommodations to enfranchise voters in the areas where separatists worked to disrupt voting, by allowing citizens to vote at alternate locations and which made voting arrangements for Crimeans to vote outside of Ukraine’s Crimea region, a region which remains under Russian occupation.
Mr. President, President-elect Poroshenko and the Ukrainian government have many challenges before them. We are heartened by the President elect’s stated goal to make national reconciliation a priority. Forging a common political vision will be essential. In this regard, we welcome the Ukrainian government’s intention to continue the OSCE-supported national unity roundtables, which have allowed Ukrainians from all regions and all political views to come together to discuss their differences and their common interests in a peaceful, unified, and stable Ukraine. And we welcome the Rada’s May 21st Memorandum of Understanding and Peace that calls on all citizens to abandon radical actions and hatred, and to protect, promote and build a democratic, sovereign and united Ukraine.
We are also encouraged by President-elect Poroshenko’s willingness to seek greater decentralization for the regions, to pursue constitutional reforms following the election, and to engage in dialogue with Russia. As the Russian Federation has stated that it will respect the will expressed by the Ukrainian people, we therefore urge Russia to recognize the results of Sunday’s election and begin to engage constructively with President-elect Poroshenko and the Ukrainian Government to resolve the crisis.
Mr. President, despite progress made with Sunday’s election we are deeply concerned by the increased violence in Donetsk and Luhansk. Including the seizure of the Donetsk airport by separatists, and we are disturbed by ongoing reports that separatists continue to carry out criminal actions in parts of eastern Ukraine. We recognize that Ukraine must uphold law and order on Ukrainian territory and we call on the separatists to disarm and end the violence. Of particular concern are reports of the detention of international OSCE monitors after they were stopped at separatist checkpoints in the Donetsk region. We condemn the abductions and call on Russia to use its influence with the separatists to secure the immediate release of the monitors and their unimpeded access throughout Ukraine.
We also remain concerned by reports that armed groups and weapons continue to cross the border from Russia into Ukraine. We believe Russia can and must act to stem such provocative actions along the Russia-Ukraine border.
In conclusion, Mr. President, let me reiterate the continued support of my government for the aspirations of the people of Ukraine for a prosperous, sovereign, independent, and united Ukraine, including the Crimea region, with strong ties to both east and west. We remain committed to working with Ukraine and other partners to seek de-escalation and the peaceful resolution of the conflict, and to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Thank you.
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