Dear Members of Congress:
Today’s hearing comes at a time of great challenge and grave danger not only for Ukraine, but also for the European and global security as a whole.
A cornerstone of international nonproliferation regime is the notion that you don’t need to have weapons of mass destruction and can rely on international law and the power of international community for protection against unwarranted aggression.
After the end of the bloodiest war in the history of humankind, the United Nations Organization was created “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” and “to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained,” where the most fundamental of such conditions is that “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”
The same principles were embodied in the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances of 1994. In exchange for Ukraine’s giving up the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States “reaffirm[ed] their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine; … to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defense or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.”
All these principles have been grossly violated by the aggression of the Russian Federation – one of the guarantor states under the Budapest Memorandum – against Ukraine. All this was done under the false pretext of protecting Russian speaking population of Crimea and pulled through a fake “referendum” in violation of all norms of Ukrainian law. Only 32.4% of the Crimea residents took part in so called “referendum” and it was boycotted completely by the indigenous people of Crimea – the Crimean Tatars.
As the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Astrid Thors stated during her recent 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. Thus, the pretext for invasion was completely trumped-up, the “referendum” was a sham, and its results were falsified in a blatant attempt to justify a land grab.
Russia’s aggression received overwhelming condemnation by the international community. Although Russia vetoed the decision by the UN Security Council, 100 countries voted for a UN General Assembly resolution in support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. There have been numerous statements in support of Ukraine and in condemnation of Russia’s actions by various international actors, including the OSCE, the United States and other G-7 nations, the European Union, the Council of Europe, and NATO.
At the same time, the fact remains that the security guarantees that had been given to Ukraine did not work. International legal mechanisms so far have failed to achieve their purpose and have been powerless to prevent aggression in Crimea.
Moreover, Russia does not want to stop there. Instead, Russia concentrates its troops near Ukraine’s border. Russian government is pushing hard for federalization of Ukraine. Russian security services continue to orchestrate provocations and instigate separatist movements in the East. Criminal terrorist groups, organized and controlled by Moscow, are carrying out seizures of administrative buildings and critical infrastructure facilities in the eastern regions of Ukraine, seeking their secession from our country and accessions into the Russian Federation, destabilizing the political and economic situation and attempting to disrupt the presidential elections scheduled on May 25, 2014. As part of this scenario, separatist groups requested military assistance from the Russian Federation. All of this clearly confirms that Russia launched the second phase of the aggression plan against Ukraine in the East.
By implementing this plan, Russia is attempting to tear away the territory of eastern Ukraine, turn it under the control of Russia into illegitimate quasi formations and sources of constant tension.
We cannot and will not allow it to happen. However, we cannot stop it on our own. We need strong actions by the international community to restore the status quo of Crimea as Ukrainian land, and thereby to restore the credibility in international law and order. So far, the aggressor has not backed down, and the pressure on Russia should only increase until Crimea is returned and all attempts to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are abandoned.
Ukraine appreciates the resolute position of the United States, in particular the bipartisan support of the U.S. Congress which recently passed strong legislation that was signed by President Obama: the H.R. 4152 and S. 2183, the “Support for the Sovereignty, Integrity, Democracy, and Economic Stability of Ukraine Act of 2014,” which provides for loan guarantees for Ukraine and directs the imposition of sanctions; and S. 2183, which authorizes funds to enhance U.S. news and information programming to the people of Ukraine and the neighboring regions.
Nowadays, our joint efforts aimed at strengthening Ukraine’s defense capabilities, modernizing Ukrainian Armed Forces and working together on maintaining peace and security are more important than ever. Ukrainian and American soldiers were together in Iraq, Afghanistan and in all peacekeeping missions under the aegis of NATO. Today, the threat to peace and security is looming over Ukraine, and the Ukraine-U.S. defense is becoming more important than ever.
On April 1, 2014, the Parliament of Ukraine passed the law allowing conducting eight multinational military exercises on the territory of Ukraine, including Ukraine-U.S. exercises “Rapid Trident 2014” and “Sea Breeze 2014” with the participation of NATO members and partners.
We thank the United States for its valuable support at this critical time, both with upholding Ukraine’s sovereignty and security, as well as with helping us tackle the most pressing economic challenges.
Ukraine stays firmly on its path towards becoming a true European democracy and a prosperous market economy. We have signed the political part of the Association Agreement with the European Union, and the rest of the document is to be signed shortly.
The Government announced an ambitious program of reforms. Despite very difficult measures that need to be taken, the result will be a sound economic and financial system that provides opportunities for growth and high living standards. As part of that program, the budget spending are being reduced, the government is to be downsized, the taxation streamlined. The new economic policy encompasses antitrust measures, deregulation of the economy and improvement for investments, as well as creation of a competitive energy market that would stimulate energy efficiency and lessen Ukraine’s dependence on Russian gas.
At the same time, the situation in the Ukrainian economy now remains quite strained and we need urgent financial assistance, particularly from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the EBRD and other international financial institutions.
After several weeks of difficult negotiations, the IMF announced that it had reached a preliminary compromise agreement with the Government of Ukraine on an economic reform program that can be supported by a two-year Stand-By Arrangement. The financial support from the broader international community that the program will unlock amounts to US$27 billion over the next two years. The assistance from the IMF will range between US$14-18 billion, with the precise amount to be determined once all bilateral and multilateral support is accounted for. We expect that this agreement will be approved by the IMF Management and the Executive Board in April this year.
We are encouraged by the announcements made by other international financial organizations, including the World Bank and the EBRD, regarding additional financial assistance to Ukraine.
Once again, now is a critical time, both for Ukraine and for the international community. Our country has always been and will remain a reliable partner of the United States, and we appreciate the U.S. support.
There is too much at stake now, and our actions at this moment will have profound ramifications for international peace, security and economy for years to come.