Cease-fire agreement not open to interpretation, Kerry says

On Friday, February 20, soldiers in Kyiv, Ukraine, pay their respects in honor of those who died during months of anti-government protests in 2013–2014. (© AP Images)

Secretary of State John Kerry has called ongoing Russian and separatist violations of the February 12 Minsk agreement in Ukraine “simply unacceptable.”

“This is behavior that is completely counter to everything that the global community has worked to achieve and to put in place ever since World War II. And I’m confident that the United Kingdom, the United States and others are prepared to stand up to it,” said Kerry in remarks February 21 in London, flanked by the United Kingdom’s foreign secretary, Philip Hammond.

Kerry said that, despite the cease-fire that went into effect at midnight February 15, Russian-backed separatists conducted a full-scale assault on the city of Debaltseve and have continued to carry out violence outside Mariupol and other strategic areas in Ukraine.

“The Minsk implementation agreement is not open to interpretation. It’s not vague. It’s not optional. It’s called for a complete cease-fire that was to take effect on the night of February 15 with full OSCE access to the conflict zone, and the pullback of all heavy weapons from the line of contact,” Kerry said. (The OSCE is the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.)

In response to Russia’s violations, Kerry said the United States and the European Community are considering additional sanctions and consequences, which would strain Russia’s already troubled economy.

“I’m confident that over the course of the next days, people are determined to make it clear we’re not going to play this game. We’re not going to sit there and be part of this kind of extraordinarily craven behavior at the expense of the sovereignty and integrity of a nation,” said Kerry.