‘We are deeply concerned by evidence that Russia has made plans for further significant aggression against Ukraine,’ says Antony Blinken
The US warned Russia on Thursday over any new military aggression against Ukraine and urged Moscow to fulfill its commitments under the Minsk agreements.
“We are deeply concerned by evidence that Russia has made plans for further significant aggression against Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the 28th meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Stockholm, Sweden.
“So we call on Russia to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity to de- escalate, reverse the recent troop buildup, return forces to normal peaceful positions, and to implement the Minsk commitments, especially the cease-fire provisions, and those allowing OSCE monitors unfettered access,” Blinken said.
“Russia unfortunately continues to violate the Helsinki Principles and repeatedly obstructs the work of this organization. It’s responsible for the perils confronted every day by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine. The seizure by force of Crimea has brought relentless abuses against Crimean Tatars, ethnic Ukrainians, and others who peacefully oppose this occupation.”
Underlining that diplomacy is the only responsible way to resolve this crisis, Blinken noted that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was talking about implementing the Minsk agreements.
“But let’s also base that on the facts. There are a series of commitments that both parties made under Minsk with the OSCE involved as well: a cease-fire unimplemented by Russia, withdrawal of all heavy weapons unimplemented by Russia, allowing OSCE monitoring unimplemented by Russia…I could go on.”
“If our Russian friends are prepared to implement their commitments under Minsk and our Ukrainian friends are as well, we will fully support that, and that is the best way to avert a renewed crisis in in Ukraine,” he added.
Blinken also called on Belarus to cease its violent crackdown and release all political prisoners and heed the demands of the people for free and fair elections under independent observation as well as cease the outrageous weaponization of migration.
“Additionally, we’ve seen a flouting of conventional arms control commitments in Europe,” he said.
He noted that Russia maintains forces in Georgia and de facto authorities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and Russian troops remain entrenched in Moldova without Moldova’s consent.
“And at home, Russia has cracked down on civil society organizations, the latest being key branches of a very respected human rights group, Memorial, as well as independent media.”
Meanwhile, he said that in the Caucasus, the US welcomes the resumption of direct dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan and urged them to make progress on humanitarian issues.
Blinken also said “we all share an interest in ensuring Afghanistan is never again used as a base to plan terrorist attacks against our countries and our people.”
“Enhanced border security cooperation with our Central Asian partners will be vital. We will continue to support the OSCE’s engagement through its field presence in Central Asia and its programs on counterterrorism, democratization and human rights, border control, and management.”
– Minsk agreements
The Minsk agreements were signed to stop the ongoing conflict between pro-Russian separatists and the Kyiv administration.
The agreements included a cease-fire in the region and prisoner exchange while also allowing Kyiv to adopt a constitutional amendment that would give Donbas a special status.
The pro-Russian separatist forces, on the other hand, were supposed to withdraw from the Ukrainian-Russian border.
However, implementation of the agreements has been hampered as the two sides accuse each other of violating the cease-fire.