Russia could end the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine tomorrow, but the Kremlin chooses to fuel the conflict, Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Mission to the OSCE Courtney Austrian has said.
She said this at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on Thursday, March 25, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
“This month marks the beginning of the eighth year of Russian hostilities toward its sovereign neighbor. Russia’s aggression in eastern Ukraine has resulted in more than 13,000 people killed and more than 1.4 million forced from their homes. The participating States of this Permanent Council and the international community have overwhelmingly and consistently condemned Russia for its violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, yet Moscow continues to pursue aggression in the Donbas," she said.
The diplomat added that at the same time, Russian families endure the loss of loved ones in a pointless conflict in eastern Ukraine. "Our Russian colleagues consistently deny their country’s role in the conflict. Repeating a lie does not make it true. Russia continues to obstruct the peace process, including in the Trilateral Contact Group," Austrian added.
She noted that real progress in the peace negotiations can be expected "only when Russia truly acknowledges its role – in the conflict it manufactured and sustains – and only when Russia engages in good faith discussions on the peace process."
According to the U.S. representative to the OSCE, instead of blatant misdirection, Russia should focus on its own commitments under Minsk. "Namely, Russia should direct the forces it arms, trains, leads and fights alongside to lay down their weapons, dismantle unlawful military formations, and remove Russia’s hardware from the territory of Ukraine. It should immediately cease the emplacement of new landmines, facilitate the safe delivery of international humanitarian assistance to Russia-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine, and reinstate Ukraine’s full control over its internationally recognized border with Russia," she said.
"Let’s be clear: Russia could do all of these things today. Russia could end this conflict tomorrow. Instead, it chooses to fuel the conflict," Austrian said.
As Ukrinform reported, on February 26, seven years have passed since the start of the Russian Federation's military aggression against Ukraine, which led to the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula and the occupation of parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Ukraine created the Crimean Platform as a consultative and coordination format for coordinating international efforts to counter Russia's criminal actions and restore its territorial integrity. As part of this initiative, Ukraine intends to hold a Crimean summit in Kyiv on August 23 this year and adopt the Crimean Declaration, which will be open for signing by all countries of goodwill. The main goal of the Crimean Platform is the de-occupation of Crimea and its return to Ukraine.