Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland spoke before the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission) in Washington, D.C. on April 9, 2014. In her remarks, Assistant Secretary Nuland said, "...For almost 40 years, the United States and this Commission have worked with our TransAtlantic Allies and partners to uphold the principles of the Helsinki Final Act. These founding principles are universal, and they include 'respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms'; 'the inviolability of frontiers'; 'territorial integrity of states'; and 'the peaceful settlement of disputes.' Russia’s actions in Ukraine are an affront to each of these fundamental principles."
Assistant Secretary Nuland continued, "...Today Ukraine is a frontline state in the struggle for freedom and all the principles this commission holds dear. Ukraine is also replete with heroes in that struggle. It took guts for the Ukrainian people to stand up to a regime awash in unchecked cronyism, corruption and violence against its people. It took grit for tens of thousands of Ukrainians to spend weeks and months on the Maidan enduring subfreezing winter temperatures to demand dignity and a better future.
"...The United States stands with Ukraine in its efforts to forge its own path forward to a freer, peaceful, and unified future. Our approach includes four pillars: first, our bilateral and multilateral support for Ukraine; second, the costs we are imposing on Russia for its aggressive actions; third, our efforts to de-escalate the crisis diplomatically; and fourth, our unwavering commitment to the security of our NATO Allies who also live on the frontlines of this crisis."
As she spoke to the Helsinki Commission, Assistant Secretary Nuland outlined the four pillars and addressed U.S. efforts to de-escalate the crisis diplomatically. As part of those efforts, Secretary Kerry has met three times with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in recent weeks, with the support of the Ukrainian government at a time when Russia would not meet directly with Ukraine. Earlier this week, Foreign Minister Lavrov agreed to meet in the next ten days with Ukraine, the European Union, and Secretary Kerry to discuss de-escalation, demobilization, support for elections and constitutional reform. Between now and then, we have made it clear that Russia needs to take concrete steps to disavow separatist actions in Eastern Ukraine, pull back its forces outside the country, and demonstrate that they are prepared to come to these discussions to do what is necessary to de-escalate.
"More broadly, the events in Ukraine are a wake-up call for all of us," Assistant Secretar Nuland said. "Everything we have stood for over 40 years as a community of free nations is at risk if we allow aggressive acts to go unchecked and unpunished. As a community, North Americans and Europeans must continue to stand with the people of Ukraine as they say no -- 'ni' in Ukrainian -- to the tactics and brutality of the 19th century and yes -- 'tak' in Ukrainian -- to a 21st century future that respects their sovereignty, their choice, and their human dignity."
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