The humanitarian situation in Ukraine urgently needs addressing, but not by those who caused it, the United States’ top envoy to the United Nations said August 8, adding, “[A]ssistance should be delivered by the international humanitarian organizations that have the expertise, experience, and independence to provide it. It should not be delivered by Russia.”
“Last week, the Russians again floated the idea of sending Russian quote ‘peacekeepers’ to eastern Ukraine,” Ambassador Samantha Power told a meeting of U.N. Security Council. “A ‘Russian peacekeeper’ in Ukraine is an oxymoron: at every step in this crisis, Russians have sabotaged peace, not built it.”
The envoy said the world has “seen the ‘peace’ that Russian occupation has brought to Crimea since that time.”
She said the United Nation’s most recent report on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine “makes clear, freedom of speech and assembly have been violently repressed, ethnic minorities systematically persecuted, and civilians abducted with impunity, 350 of whom are still unaccounted for” and Russia has made no progress on any of the 17 previous recommendations the United Nations has made to Russia regarding serious human rights problems in Crimea.
“Russia has repeatedly accused members of this council of politicizing a humanitarian situation. But Russia has it backwards,” Power said. “In fact, it is Russia that is trying to disguise a political crisis — one manufactured and exported by Moscow — as a humanitarian one. The very humanitarian problems that Russia is decrying in eastern Ukraine, and turning a blind eye to in Crimea, are directly traceable to violence it has facilitated or supported.”
Secretary of State John Kerry, on travel to Asia, also weighed in on the issue, according to a senior State Department official.
During a call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov August 9, Kerry made clear that the best way to get additional humanitarian assistance to eastern Ukraine is for all parties to work through international organizations, many of which are already on the ground, and that assistance should be delivered only with the consent of the Ukrainian government.
Secretary Kerry conveyed that Russia should not intervene in Ukraine under the guise of humanitarian convoys or any other pretext of “peacekeeping.”