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Remarks by Ukraine's Ambassador to the U.S. Olexander Motsyk in Congress at the panel discussion on "Russian Aggression: Exploring the Implications of Putin's Annexation of Crimea"
31 March 2014 19:53

Dear Members of Congress, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:

Ukraine is under attack – blatant and unprovoked – a part of the territory of my country being occupied by foreign troops.

Ukraine was invaded by a neighboring country which is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and guarantor of Ukraine's security.

This unprovoked aggression, which had no reasons, violated the most fundamental rules of international law enshrined in the UN Charter, the CSCE Final Act of 1975, as well as many other multilateral and bilateral agreements.

The claims on which Russia based its actions are plainly false.

Russian troops invaded Crimea under the guise of protecting Russian speaking population against the new pro-democratic and pro-European government that replaced the former corrupt regime of Yanukovych, who had used snipers against its own people and fled the country when he realized that people were no longer willing to suffer his tyranny.

Yanukovych himself refused to implement the February 21 agreement that Russia cites all the time. Our Parliament elected the new Government by overwhelming support of 371 votes (out of 450 Members of Parliament). The new Government received the votes also from the majority of Yanukovych’s own party – the Party of Regions. That means that current Government enjoys the support of the whole Ukraine.

Similarly, alleged threats to the Russian speeking population in Ukraine are equally a plain lie.

On March 6, the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Astrid Thors stated that during her visit to Crimea, she found no evidence of violations or threats to the rights of Russians and Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

The illegal “referendum” in Crimea held at the gunpoint of Russian soldiers was organized by the Kremlin using criminals, such as self-proclaimed “prime minister” Aksionov. It was a complete farce, whose sole purpose was to justify a blatant land grab.

  • ballots were distributed to many voters who were not registered, including nationals of other countries;
  • journalists were banned from polling stations;
  • Crimean Tatars, ethnic Ukrainians and national minorities of the Crimea boycotted the referendum;
  • according to Crimean Tatars leader Mustafa Jamilev, only 34.2% of voters took part in the “referendum”, including only 1 thousand out of 185 thousand Tatars.

The falsified “popular support” of the annexation of Crimea reminds of the voting practices during the Soviet times, where 99% voted for Communist Party. It was Stalin who said that “it is not important how people vote, it is important how the votes are counted.”

The whole world, first of all the United States and the European Union, has condemned the Russian military intervention in Ukraine and the unlawful annexation of Crimea.

Ukraine appreciates the strong position of President Obama, the U.S. Government, bipartisan support in Congress, support of American citizens, including Ukrainian Americans, of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as condemnation of the Russian aggression and rejection of the illegal referendum used as a phony pretext to seize a part of Ukraine’s territory.

Today, the United Nations General Assembly passed a Resolution in support of territorial integrity of Ukraine.

The Resolution “calls upon all States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any alteration of the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea … on the basis of the … referendum and to refrain from any action or dealing that might be interpreted as recognizing any such altered status,”

“Underscores that the referendum … [of] 16 March 2014, having no validity, cannot form the basis for any alteration of the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea or of the city of Sevastopol,”

“Affirms its commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders,”

“Calls upon all States to desist and refrain from actions aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including any attempts to modify Ukraine’s borders through the threat or use of force or other unlawful means.”

The overwhelming majority of the world supported this Resolution, with 100 nations voting in favor, and only 11 countries voting against it, where Russia found itself in the company of Belarus, Cuba, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Armenia.

This resolution has tremendous significance, as it not only condemns Russian aggression and supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity, it also speaks out in support of the cornerstone principles of the international law and the United Nations.

I would like to thank the United States of America once again for its unwavering support of Ukraine and for the support of this Resolution.

The world has clearly spoken. Russia’s actions are in gross defiance of the most fundamental norms of international law. Russia’s aggression shook the foundation of European and global security architecture and international nuclear non-proliferation regime, as Moscow was one of the guarantors of Ukraine’s territorial integrity when Ukraine voluntarily gave up the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world. 

There is no place for the use of force and coercion to change borders in Europe in the 21st century.

Ukraine showed utmost restraint in Crimea and refrained from the use of force to prevent bloodshed.

Meanwhile, Russia has taken over the Crimean peninsula. There are 22 thousand Russian troops there now. Russia has taken all of our property, military bases, most of our Black Sea fleet.

People who live in Crimea are now forced to either take the Russian citizenship or leave, as they all of a sudden became foreigners in their own land. Russia is forcing the application of its laws in Crimea, and under the Russian law, even talks about Crimea as a part of Ukraine are now considered a criminal offence.

The Russian aggression continues. There are indications that Russia plans a Crimean scenario in Southeastern Ukraine as well.

There is over a 100 thousand Russian troops near our Southeastern borders standing in combat order. There have been numerous provocations in the territory of Ukraine aimed at inciting ethnic hatred and separatism, accompanied by violence against civilians, seizure and blocking of state government property, desecration of Ukrainian state symbols.

The Russian side continues to form organized groups for the purpose of deploying them to the southern and eastern regions of Ukraine with the aim of destabilizing the situation.

The threat of Russia’s aggression into mainland Ukraine is very real.

As our Prime Minister clearly said, if Russia crosses the border of the mainland, this is the duty of every Ukrainian citizen to protect our country. We will defend our land.

We count on continued U.S. support, and we hope that the U.S. Congress will soon pass the bill authorizing much needed assistance to Ukraine.

At the same time, we believe that there is a chance to resolve this conflict peacefully and through negotiations.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Deshchytsia recently met with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov at The Hague. Lavrov promised that Russia will not go into mainland Ukraine.

We are open to dialogue with Russia, and this dialogue should be based on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Everything else can be a subject of discussion. 

Ukraine will never recognize annexation of Crimea.

And Ukraine will never allow anyone to dictate its own future.

On May 25 we will hold presidential elections.

Last week, Ukraine signed the political part of the Association Agreement with the European Union. Ukrainian people want and deserve a better future to live in a free, democratic and peaceful country. 

This is our choice, and this choice is not directed against Russia. Ukraine and Russia are neighbors, and we want to live like good neighbors.

We call on Russia to listen not only to us, but to the whole international community. There is still a chance to deescalate the situation and start talking. This is the only sensible choice.

U.S. Congress, March 27, 2014

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