Minsk agreements remain the best option for peaceful conflict resolution in Donbas and restoration of Ukrainian state sovereignty over the occupied territory, the Assistant Secretary of State for European ad Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland stated at the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, October 8.
“Minsk implementation remains a goal worth fighting for because the alternatives are bleak: at best, a frozen conflict in which Donbas becomes an unrecognized gray zone for the foreseeable future; at worst, a return to the war that has already claimed too many Ukrainian lives– and Russian lives, as well,” Nuland said.
However, Ukraine and Western community doubt Russia and its proxies will ever allow full implementation of Minsk agreements as “yet in the eight months since the February signing of the implementing agreement, Eastern Ukraine has seen almost constant violence all along the contact line, continued weapons shipments from Russia masquerading as humanitarian aid, separatist filibustering and threats at the political negotiating table, and repeated Russian efforts to relitigate basic elements of Minsk,” she noted.
Therefore, the international community must support Ukraine in Minsk agreements implementation, in particular, by “keep pushing Russia and its proxies to demonstrate equal good faith”, the Assistant Secretary stressed.
“We will judge Russia and the separatists by their actions, not their words. We will work with the EU to keep sanctions in place until the Minsk agreements are fully implemented. And of course, Crimea sanctions remain in place so long as the Kremlin imposes its will on that piece of Ukrainian land,” Nuland told.
Victoria Nuland promised that other aspects of Minsk agreements' full implementation including the return of Nadiya Savchenko, Oleh Sentsov and other hostages held in Russia, full humanitarian access for UN and Ukrainian agencies and NGO’s, and removal of all foreign forces, weapons, and landmines are also to be pushed on the Russian Federation.
In addition, the Assistant Secretary stressed on necessity to jointly fight propaganda and disinformation about the conflict in East Ukraine spread by Russian media.
“We must challenge the false narrative that nothing can or will change in Ukraine. To fight disinformation not only in Ukraine and Russia, but across Russian-speaking communities in Europe, we are joining forces with our partners in the EU to support alternatives to state-sponsored, Russian programming. We are also training foreign journalists and civil society actors in the art of fighting lies with the truth,” she noted.