Secretary of State
February 5, 2015
PRESIDENT POROSHENKO: Mr. Secretary, we are very pleased to welcome you, as the United States Secretary of State.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you.
PRESIDENT POROSHENKO: It’s almost one year passed since your last visit in Kyiv and I still remember the very crucial and positive discussions we had at that time, and the whole world (inaudible) our country faced a critical changes in peace and security caused by the extremely cynical aggression against Ukraine, aggression against fundamental principles of international law, peaceful coexistence, respecting sovereignty and territorial (inaudible) and noninterference (inaudible). Present time become the test – Ukraine-U.S. strategic partnership.
In Ukraine, we highly appreciate the United States invaluable support to our nation and our people through all the time of Ukraine independence. The support has become most evident viewed in the Russian aggression on Crimea and on Donbas. It is important to underline strong and unanimous support of our country both from United States President, United States Administration, United States Congress, and United States Government. And it’s very important by American people. It’s very valuable – this support, Mr. Secretary.
The United States leading role in consideration of the transatlantic solidarity in support of Ukraine is critical for pushing of the peaceful solution, and we are grateful for the consistent engagement of the State Department and you personally, Mr. Secretary, into this effort. And I still remember that the historic Minsk protocol and Minsk memorandum – it was done on the 5th of September, where we met on the – in United Kingdom on the major summit and this is a key element and the main documents of our de-escalation of the situation and development of the peace process.
Today, we are facing another growing escalation of violence by terrorists directly supporting by Moscow, their refusal to fulfill obligation of the Minsk agreement, their barbarian attack on the civilian population, which led to multiple casualties every day. (Inaudible) Volnovakha, tragedy in Mariupol, tragedy in the Debaltseve, where they’re killing civilian people, is absolutely unacceptable in the 21st century in the center of Europe.
Nadiya Savchenko – illegal imprisonment, captain of the Ukrainian army, defending their own land, their own motherland, was captured, imprisoned, and today is the – her 55th day of the exhausted hunger strike and refusal (inaudible) her relatives is terrible violation of the human rights committed by Russia. This issue were a point of our discussion with the Secretary Kerry. We are working to find out ways for peaceful settlement and deprive Ukrainian people from ongoing horror on the aggression. This is a priority for all community of the civilized nation, for every civilized society.
At the same time, we are strengthening our security cooperation, a number of means could be used to enhance such cooperation. However, to find out the most effective way, the most effective medicine for the (inaudible) to help him to recover the principal task. A comprehensive support of reform in Ukraine also was discussed today, and we thank United States for the assistance, for the advisors, and for their cooperation. We are already demonstrating the most important and most urgent sphere of the Ukraine who need (inaudible). This is the fight against corruption, this is the rule of law, this is the build-up independent court and judge system, this is the building of the effective investment climate, and development of the democracy and freedom.
And in this particular sphere, this is crucially important our cooperation with the United States and we thank you for the – for this cooperation. Because the comprehensive support of Ukraine, also the crucial direction in Ukrainian-American partnership, which is equal important, it means political, economic, financial consulting support, and we are receiving maximum possible assistance from our American partners.
Today as you know, we have a mission of the International Monetary Fund most probably in the next hours, even not days, they finish their mission and they prepared a memorandum. And the effective cooperation with the IMF, with our reliable partner, such as United States, European Union, Japan, Canada, Australia, South Korea – all the countries of the world who are demonstrating their readiness to support Ukraine in this difficult time is vitally important for us.
And I thank Secretary Kerry for – and United States Administration for the decision to provide Ukraine with a significant economic assistance, both previous and (inaudible). I think this is very important for us, and the fact that Secretary Kerry come not with empty hands and this is just – today was the additional increasing of the financial support is very important and is right timeframe in need (inaudible).
And as the President of Ukraine, I can once more reaffirm my strong support of speedy implementation for the systematic reform, fighting corruption, rearranging all state governance to ensure priority of democratic society. These changes are the key prerequisite for a successful and democratic Ukraine, as well as prosperous and safe life for our citizens.
And today, voting of the – in the Ukrainian parliament and support my constitutional proposal, more than constitutional majority, for the removing the immunity of the members of parliament and immunity of the judges and helping us to fight against corruption. This is another step and another evidence of the – our decisive efforts to build up the new country with the European values, with the – based on the principle of freedom and democracy. And this is the same way how we can demonstrate our cooperation with the United States (inaudible).
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you very much Mr. President. First of all, thank you for welcoming me here today and thank you very, very much for the great leadership that you personally, your government, my friend, your foreign minister, who I’ve worked with closely in many meetings in the last year. And you are right, it is just about a year since I was here. And I want you to know that today I am here specifically to bring you the support and friendship and goodwill of the President of the United States, of the Administration, but most importantly the American people. The people of the United States share unwavering support for the Ukrainian people as they continue to display a very courageous journey towards democracy, towards freedom, independence, and most importantly towards the protection of the appropriate respect due for the sovereignty of your country. Your people have bravely and relentlessly pursued a sovereign democratic future; we admire that and we respect it.
I would emphasize to President Putin and to those Russians who obviously express concerns about the road that you’re on that we don’t view this as a zero-sum game. We have never viewed it that way. This is not meant to be nor should it be a divide between East and West. This is about rule of law. It’s about the norms by which nation-states behave. And it’s about the fundamental respect for the integrity of the sovereignty of Ukraine.
This morning, President Poroshenko and I had an opportunity to be able to discuss the necessary and promising reform steps that the President has been leading. This is a program that the Ukrainian Government is undertaking now. Even in the difficult circumstances of the conflict that is taking place, you just heard President Poroshenko restate his personal commitment and the steps that he is taking in order to implement these reforms in Ukraine. We spent some time talking about his political path ahead, the unity of his government, the commitment of his government to protect the interests of the people of Ukraine, but also we talked about the largest threat that Ukraine faces today, and that is Russia’s continued aggression in the east. There’s no other way to call it.
We’re not seeking a conflict with Russia; no one is – not President Poroshenko, not the United States, not the European community. That’s not what this is about. We are very hopeful that Russia will take advantage of our broad-based, uniform acceptance of the notion that there is a diplomatic solution that is staring everybody in the face. That’s what we want. We want a diplomatic resolution. But we cannot close our eyes to tanks that are crossing the border from Russia and coming into Ukraine. We can’t close our eyes to Russian fighters in unmarked uniforms crossing the border and leading individual companies of so-called separatists in battle. We can’t close our eyes to modern rockets and modern radar capacity and other capacity that has crossed the border in order to prosecute this conflict across sovereign lines, across international borders, against all the promises that were made in the Minsk ceasefire agreement.
So we want a peaceful resolution. And President Obama has asked me to come here and he has asked Vice President Biden and me to join together over this weekend in Munich in direct conversations where we will meet again with President Poroshenko, where we will meet with our European allies and friends in an effort to underscore our choice is diplomacy, our choice is a peaceful resolution. But Russia needs to make its choices, and those choices are not just declared by words; they have to be declared by actions. And that means engaging in a series of steps that will uphold the Minsk Agreement which was entered into last year and which they signed up to.
Regrettably, the violence in Donbas has accelerated since then, not diminished. Innocent people are dying every single day – innocent people, people caught in a barrage of artillery that comes into Mariupol, which has no business whatsoever being dragged into this conflict; families cowering in their basements with their children to avoid the shelling. So it is imperative that everybody make the right choices here. Russia needs to demonstrate its commitment to ending the bloodshed once and for all. And we would ask that it does so by honoring the agreement that it signed, the Minsk agreement. Everybody knows what the actions are that were expected from that agreement. It’s not complicated. And Russia needs to now cease this military support for the separatists and bring people to the table in an effort to achieve a lasting political solution.
So in order for this conflict to be resolved, certain things need to happen. The Russians need to undertake certain steps, and the separatists who act with their input have to also support those steps. First of all, there must be an immediate commitment now to a real ceasefire which is not just a piece of paper and words, but which is followed up by specific actions.
Namely, pull back the heavy weapons from the ceasefire line, from the border, beyond the range of artillery, beyond the range of certain munitions to be able to do harm to civilians. That would be the first confidence-building measure that would begin to allow for peaceful resolution. Second, remove foreign troops and heavy equipment from Ukraine. Which leads you to the third step: Respect the international border; close that border to the movement of these materials and tanks, which are the fundamental means by which this continued war is prosecuted, and by doing so, restore Ukrainian sovereignty, respect Ukrainian sovereignty. It is fully possible to be able to work through the interests that Russia has expressed about the people in Donetsk and Luhansk and to have those issues worked through, but the way to do it is not by fostering greater violence.
Both sides need to release the hostages who are currently detained, and in addition, it is important to note that President Poroshenko this morning, in my conversations with him, pointed out that he remains committed to supporting the special status law which is currently on the books, which provides greater economic and municipal and political rights to those particular to the Donbas area. And that’s important to remember – that he has also committed to pursuing real constitutional reform, and he is committed to holding new free and fair elections in Donbas, and if these steps are respected, it is fully appropriate to also expect that the full measure of the Minsk agreement can then also be respected and implemented. That is the outline of peace. And the United States of America, President Obama, is deeply committed to helping to assist all the parties to come together in an effort to try to achieve this. The fact that Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande are visiting Kyiv today underscores that together, the United States, France, Germany, and the rest of our international partners stand united with Ukraine in calling on Russia to take the steps that I just outlined, and to take those steps without delay. And that is exactly how this conflict can come to an end.
That is our choice. The Ukrainian people, President Poroshenko, the United States, European allies and friends, we are convinced that if diplomacy is given meaning beyond the piece of paper and the words that are on it, through the actions that follow to implement what those words lay out, there could be peace. So this is a critical moment for this region, for this country, and for the prospects of peace. It is really possible that this conflict could come to an end, but only starting with a ceasefire, moving the heavy equipment back, and beginning to deal with the real issues that we all know are on the table.
That is also the only way that Russia’s international isolation is going to be ended and eased, and it’s the only way that the Ukrainian people in all parts of this country will finally achieve the peace that they so deserve.
Let me just say that when I came here a year ago, I was deeply moved by my visit, deeply moved by the people that I met near the Maidan, as I visited the site where so many people were killed by snipers at that pivotal turning point in the struggle for freedom. It is really enormously impressive what the people of Ukraine have accomplished, broadly speaking, over the course of this year. They held an election under the most difficult circumstances, a peaceful transfer of power, the finding of a new government, a government that has worked hard in unity to try to end this conflict. And we hope that in the next days it may be possible, finally, to try to find a road ahead, and Mr. President, we’re grateful to you for your steadfast leadership and for the effort to reform things even in the middle of this conflict, which you have remained so committed to.
So we thank you for that, and I look forward to seeing you in Munich in a day or so. Thank you, sir.