Secretary’s Remarks: Statement to Press at NATO Ministerial

I was privileged to brief all of our NATO colleagues on the meetings held yesterday in Sochi with President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov. I think there was strong agreement among all of the NATO members that this is a critical moment for action by Russia, by the separatists, to live up to the Minsk agreement. And that it is critical to be able to get the OSCE into areas of conflict, it is important to end the conflict in those areas, particularly Shyrokyne. They need to try to come to an agreement on a ceasefire. We need to see the full implementation of Minsk, and I think everybody here is united in the notion that our preference is not to have sanctions, but the sanctions will be there in an effort to try to secure the peace that everybody wants in Ukraine.

There’s unanimity among all of the members here in the urgency of the Minsk agreement being fully implemented, and that means that the reforms, the election process, the working groups, this is an enormous moment of opportunity for the conflict there to find a path of certainty and resolution. And we hope very, very much that President Putin, Russia, the separatists, will come together to work with the Government of Ukraine in order to fully implement it and make progress.