Press Availability by Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland

ASSISTANT SECRETARY NULAND: Hello everybody. It’s nice to see you. We are just completing a very constructive round of consultations here in Moscow. Yesterday, we had a very thorough discussion, led on the Russian side by Presidential Administration Senior Advisor Surkov, on the whole complex issues associated with the Minsk Agreements. Today here at the Foreign Ministry, I had a chance to see Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov to talk about our bilateral relationship. Yesterday, we dug very deeply on all aspects of the Minsk negotiations – how we can improve security, how we can improve OSCE access, how we move forward to complete the political obligations on Minsk, including preparations for an election in Donbas. As you all know, the United States is not a participant in the Normandy Format, but we have agreed with all of the Normandy partners that we will work in parallel to try to reinforce these negotiations, working both with Kyiv and with Moscow. As you know, we were in Kyiv a couple of weeks ago and Secretary Kerry also discussed these issues with Foreign Minister Lavrov in Vienna two days ago. The United States’ view is that we want to see Minsk implemented as soon as possible. We think that it’s now time to really step on the gas and see this implemented. It will be good for peace and security in Ukraine. It will be good for relations between Russia and Ukraine. And it will be good for relations between the U.S. and our allies and Russia if we can move forward on this. And as the president has said, as our president has said, if and when Minsk is fully implemented, sanctions can be rolled back. So I go home having had a constructive round of talks. It’s important to keep talking, it’s important to keep trying to solve these issues together.

REPORTER’S QUESTION: Regarding local elections in Donbas, if self-proclaimed republics decide to hold elections on their own, without Kiev’s involvement, would the U.S. recognize their results? If so, on what conditions?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY NULAND: We will not recognize the results and nor will anybody else in the international community of any election held in Donbas outside of the Minsk framework and without the agreement that is represented in Minsk that these need to be Ukrainian elections that meet Ukrainian standards and meet OSCE standards. So, a bunch of guys out there just deciding to hold an election is not going to lead to peace and security in Donbas, and we would respectfully encourage them instead to focus on Minsk compliant elections. Thanks very much.