Russia and the separatists it backs in eastern Ukraine continue to flout the commitments made in the September and February Minsk agreements with seemingly endless violations, and the international community can’t turn a blind eye, according to U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power.
Speaking June 5 at the U.N. Security Council, Power said Russia and its separatist allies in eastern Ukraine continue to provide multiple, and often conflicting, explanations for attacks reported by the Organization for Security and Co‑operation in Europe Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (OSCE SMM).
Earlier in June, the OSCE SMM reported coordinated attacks by combined Russian-separatist forces around the eastern Ukrainian towns of Donetsk and Mayrinka. “Russia has argued that the attacks were justified because the areas that are actually part of the separatist-controlled territory under the Minsk agreements are these areas. They are not,” Power said.
While Russia, in some instances, blamed Ukraine for inciting the attacks, separatists themselves undermined Moscow’s finger-pointing. Power cited two instances in which separatists bragged about their involvement. In one case, a separatist tweeted “Maryinka is ours!” during an attack. In another, a post on a separatist website proclaimed a “massive attack” by separatist forces liberating Maryinka.
“The eyes do not conceal the truth. And the truth here is that the recent violence was rooted in a combined Russian-separatist assault,” Power said.
Power spoke of the hardships civilians, including 1.3 million displaced people, face in the conflict zones. She said there is limited access to vital medicines and services.
Despite Russian and separatist aggression, Ukraine is making “good faith” efforts toward implementing the Minsk agreements, Power said. She also noted efforts by Ukraine’s civil society to pursue reforms that will address corruption. Ukraine has been cooperating with the international community to identify and address concerns, Power said.
Power reiterated U.S. support for Ukraine as it continues its progress. “We must not stop applying pressure [on Russia and the separatists] until Ukrainians get the stable democracy, the territorial integrity and sovereignty they yearn for and deserve,” she said.
Power will visit Ukraine June 10–12 to meet with those most affected by the Russian-fueled conflict and to discuss the critical importance of reforms.
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