On June 24, 2014, the United Nations Security Council convened to address the situation in Ukraine. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power addressed the Security Council, and said:
"...Time and again -- at least 17 times since February -- we have gathered here to discuss the situation in Ukraine. And time and again, we’ve had to dedicate significant amounts of time to reviewing the efforts of Russia to destabilize its neighbor and to refuting the bald misinformation and outright fiction about what is happening on the ground in Ukraine.
"Russian rhetoric has been inaccurate, inflammatory and self-justifying. On June 17, just last week, Foreign Minister Lavrov accused Ukrainian military authorities of carrying out 'ethnic cleansing.' Days earlier, a leader in the Duma accused Ukraine of committing 'mass genocide.'
"My government, this Council, and the United Nations take extremely seriously any reports of ethnic cleansing or genocide. But baseless claims like this have the effect of radicalizing Russian separatists, escalating this horrible crisis and further eviscerating the credibility of Russian reports from the region.
"We should consider such claims alongside the facts on the ground, such as the situation of the ethnic Tatar community in Crimea following Russia’s purported annexation, which the international community will never recognize. The homes of Tatar leaders have been arbitrarily searched, and editors of its main newspaper threatened with prosecution. Tatars who have participated in peaceful protests have been locked up by the dozens, and many more insulted and harassed for speaking their language in public. And its members have been told that they -- and all Crimeans -- must give up their Ukrainian citizenship, or else be treated like foreigners in their own land. Meanwhile, in areas controlled by illegal separatist groups in southeast Ukraine, we continue to see Russia’s extensive support for the campaign of violence and separatist terror.
"The crimes committed by these groups are methodically documented in the UN Monitoring Mission’s reports, and follow a pattern set by Russia’s unlawful intervention in Crimea. They include the violent seizure and occupation of public and government buildings; unprovoked, lethal attacks against Ukrainian security forces; and arbitrary arrests, torture, beatings, death threats, disappearances, killings, and other serious abuses carried out by Russian fighters and the pro-Russian separatists."
Ambassador Power continued, "...Russia has attempted, erroneously, to characterize the events unfolding in eastern Ukraine as a humanitarian crisis. They falsely have cast themselves as the defender of rights and vindicator of the vulnerable; and the Russian army and its operatives as a humanitarian aid agency. But this Russian 'aid' operation sends soldiers, not doctors; it mans armored personnel carriers, not relief tents; it provides surface-to-air missiles, not meals-ready-to-eat. Russia claims that 100,000 people have fled Ukraine for Russia. Yet, Under-Secretary-General Amos informed this Council in a briefing last week, that the real number is around 4,600.
"I do not for one moment intend to minimize the very real humanitarian consequences of the crises in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, including the tens of thousands of internally displaced people within Ukraine’s borders. But we have to be objective and fact-based in our claims and candid about what has brought about these dire humanitarian consequences: namely, the political and military support that Russia continues to provide to armed, violent separatists."
Ambassador Power concluded, "...As we sit here, eight OSCE monitors are being held captive for the crime of bearing witness and gathering facts – actions that are dangerous only to those who would distort those facts. These monitors have been held captive for nearly a month -- a month! -- by separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk, with no justification. For these crimes, there must be consequences.
"There also must be continued consequences for Russia’s consistent violations of the fundamental principles of the UN Charter and for its ongoing failure to meet the commitments it has made. And there must be consequences for the widespread crimes and abuses committed by the armed separatists Russia supports. Both because the victims of these crimes merit justice; and because, as we have seen, unless Russia feels effective pressure to de-escalate, it will continue to choose to escalate this crisis.
"We have urged Russia to be part of the political solution to the crisis in Ukraine. But if it persists with the same escalatory tactics -- it must face additional costs."
For more information:
- Remarks by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at a Security Council Meeting on the Situation in Ukraine, June 24, 2014
- Readout of President Obama's Call with President Putin of Russia, June 23, 2014
- Readout of Vice President Biden's Call with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, June 23, 2014
- Embassy of the United States in Kyiv, Ukraine