Press Statement by Deputy Secretary Burns

Good morning. I am delighted to be back in Kyiv at this historic moment. President Obama and Secretary Kerry asked me to convey a simple message—a message of deep admiration for the courage and determination of Ukrainians in the face of last week’s tragic violence, and a message of strong American support for a stable, democratic, inclusive, and prosperous Ukraine.

I was profoundly moved by my conversations last evening at St. Michael’s Cathedral with the medics, religious leaders, civil society activists and protesters who demonstrated for the whole world such bravery and selflessness on the Maidan.  Let me repeat my sincerest condolences to the family members and loved ones of all who were injured or lost their lives in pursuit of  a more just and democratic Ukraine.  Their sacrifices inspire us all, and their selflessness should be a source of strength as Ukrainians seek to heal their society’s wounds, renew their democracy, and revive their economy.

I have had extensive meetings over the past two days with a wide range of Ukrainian leaders, including Speaker Turchynov, Mr. Yatsenuk, Mr. Klychko, Mr. Tyahanybok, Mr. Poroshenko, Mr. Tihipko, and former Prime Minister Tymoshenko.  I also met with Lady Ashton, the EU High Representative, and UN Special Envoy Robert Serry, with whom we share a strong interest in supporting Ukraine on its democratic path.

In all my meetings, I emphasized the urgent importance of the Rada’s efforts to form a multi-party, technical government that represents all regions of Ukraine. Once that government is formed, we and our international partners can begin to take immediate steps to help support Ukraine economically and implement the reforms necessary to restore Ukraine’s political and economic health. A team of economic specialists from the Department of Treasury and White House accompanied me to Kyiv, and will stay on after my departure today to continue our consultations.

We also look forward to working with the new government and civil society to support free and fair Presidential elections in May. We will continue to firmly support Ukraine’s unity and territorial integrity, and healthy relations with all of its neighbors, including Russia.

Again, I am glad to be in Ukraine as it enters a crucial period in its history, a period of considerable challenges, but also great promise. The United States stands with the Ukrainian people at this remarkable moment, and we will do all we can to help them build the strong, sovereign and democratic country they so richly deserve.