Press Availability in Ukraine

Remarks
Victoria Nuland
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Kyiv, Ukraine
May 16, 2015


Assistant Secretary Nuland: Hello everybody. Thank you for being here. It has been a terrific and extremely busy two days in Kyiv. I have had the chance to see President Poroshenko, Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, Foreign Minister Klimkin, Minister of Finance Jaresko, Speaker Groysman, SBU Chairman Nalyvaichenko, Minister Avakov, a collection of young Rada deputies, the leader of the Opposition Bloc, the mayor of Kyiv, OSCE’s leadership, Heidi Tagliavini and the head of the political working group, Ambassador Morel. I’ve also seen some Ukrainian business leaders, and just now had a chance to meet some of the young new police that the United States is supporting in training. We have two members of the California Highway Patrol here who are trainers, and it really was a terrific opportunity to see the new institutions, the new, clean, democratic police force that Ukraine is building first in Kyiv and that you’re now going to start expanding across the country.

This trip began on Tuesday, when I accompanied Secretary Kerry on his visit to see President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov in Sochi, and then we were at NATO Headquarters for the foreign ministerial meetings there.[1] I arrived in Kyiv on Thursday night. We felt it was very important that, in addition to the briefings that Secretary Kerry gave directly to President Poroshenko and to Foreign Minister Klimkin, I come to Kyiv after Sochi to make absolutely clear the U.S. commitment to the full implementation of the Minsk agreements, and to make clear that we are eager to deepen our involvement in helping the parties achieve full implementation—everything from complete ceasefire and pullback on the line of control, to the political pieces, to the border pieces. So we dug in very hard on those issues during this visit. I had a chance to get the perspective from the Ukrainian leadership, so that we have your view as we go forward and try to work with others to ensure that these are fully implemented.

But of course I also had a chance to get a firsthand feel for how the reforms are proceeding, and talk to folks about constitutional issues, decentralization, etc. It’s my first visit since I was here with Secretary Kerry in February. I would say that I leave here with a renewed sense of optimism about the course that Ukraine is on. We know that what you’re involved in is very difficult, that reforms are painful, but you’re on the right course to a more democratic, cleaner, more European country and the United States is proud to be Ukraine’s partner in that.

Why don’t I take a couple of questions.

Question: What concrete reassurances have you been able to make to Kyiv, especially in light of Mr. Kerry’s visit to Sochi recently? Is the U.S. sending mixed signals here, and what would the USG be doing in addition to what it’s already doing to support the government here?

Assistant Secretary Nuland: As I said, our main message here was that the United States is prepared now and actively engaged in deepening our engagement and deepening our support for seeing Minsk fully implemented in all of its aspects—in the security aspect, in the political aspect, and with regard to humanitarian relief, with regard to the border.

So we talked very, very specifically about concrete things that need to happen to measure Minsk implementation. For example, in the security area, the fighting has to stop across the line, we have to get full ceasefires in these key strategic places like Shyrokyne. We talked very specifically about how the OSCE can play an enhanced role in protecting Shyrokyne, while ensuring that the Ukrainian side can continue to defend Mariupol. We talked very specifically about how to use the humanitarian working group of the Normandy trilateral contact group to get more humanitarian assistance to the people of Donbas. We talked about the absolute necessity of ensuring that Minsk is fully implemented on the border, which means that the OSCE should be allowed access all along the border, and any cargo coming into Ukraine should be fully inspected. And we talked about how to use the political working group, involving OSCE standards, to test what the conditions need to be before there can be a free, fair election in the east that meets the standards of the Ukrainian constitution and meets the standards of international monitoring.

Again, I would say that the United States deepens our engagement in the Minsk implementation process in lockstep with our European allies and partners, with the EU, and particularly with the Normandy powers of Germany and France. In Sochi, President Putin told Secretary Kerry that he is fully committed to Minsk implementation. It’s now important that all sides walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Question: When do you expect to see specific results of negotiations including this busy week?

Assistant Secretary Nuland: Well this is obviously a process. It’s been a process since the second round of Minsk agreements was finished on February 21st.[2] As you know, there is less firing, but none of us should be satisfied with the results, so that’s why we want to push harder on all of these things and see what we can achieve in the coming days and weeks. So you will be able to measure whether we make progress in places like Shyrokyne if the shelling stops, in places like Donetsk Airport. You’ll be able to measure whether we made progress if the workings groups really start to close the gap and achieve their respective results, if the people of Donbas are safer and if they are able to receive the humanitarian support that we know that the people of Ukraine want them to have. And you’ll see the results if OSCE is allowed to play its appropriate role on the border, and if the cargo begins to be appropriately inspected as it should be. Again, the people of the United States stand firmly with the people of Ukraine in their quest for a cleaner, more democratic, stable, peaceful, prosperous European country. I’m proud to be here today.

Thank you, everybody.

 


[1] The meeting was in Antalya, Turkey

[2] February 12, 2015