Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, condemned Russia for its “aggressive actions” in eastern Ukraine during her first public remarks to the U.N. Security Council.
BREAKING: US Amb. to UN Haley: "I must condemn the aggressive actions of Russia" in eastern Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/rj7YQURxNO
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) February 2, 2017
“I consider it unfortunate on the occasion of my first appearance here I must condemn the aggressive actions of Russia,” said Haley. “It is unfortunate because it is a replay of far too many instances, over many years, in which United States representatives have needed to do that. It should not have to be that way.”
“We do want to better our relations with Russia,” she continued. “However, the dire situation in eastern Ukraine is one that demands clear and strong condemnation of Russian actions. The sudden increase in fighting in eastern Ukraine has trapped thousands of civilians and destroyed vital infrastructure, and the crisis is spreading, endangering many thousands more. This escalation of violence must stop.”
“The United States stands with the people of Ukraine, who have suffered for nearly three years under Russian occupation and military intervention,” Haley declared. “Until Russia and the separatists it supports respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, this crisis will continue.”
She also said the United States “continues to condemn, and call for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea.”
“Crimea is a part of Ukraine,” the Ambassador stated. “Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine.”
Haley called for “full and immediate implementation of the Minsk agreements, which the United States continues to support” to achieve peace in eastern Ukraine. Among other provisions, these agreements call for a ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons, and withdrawal of foreign fighting forces from the area. Haley noted that both Russia and Ukraine have recently expressed their willingness to restore a ceasefire.
“For the people in eastern Ukraine, the stakes are high. With each passing day, more people are at risk of freezing to death, or dying from the mortar blasts,” she said.
“The United States expects that those who can influence the groups that are fighting, in particular Russia, will do everything possible to support an end to this escalation of violence,” Haley concluded.
European Union President Donald Tusk also stated Thursday that Moscow should use its influence with the separatists to bring an immediate halt to the fighting, following a night of artillery exchanges in which at least two Ukranian troops were killed, and ten others wounded.