US State Department spokeswoman: Any UN peacekeeping force ‘should have a broad mandate for peace and security’ throughout Ukraine

Editor’s Note: The following is a transcript of a U.S. State Department foreign press briefing on Sept. 13 by spokeswoman Heather Nauert in Washington, D.C. The entire transcript can be read here while an excerpt about the possibility of a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Ukraine is below. 

QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Iaroslov Dovgopol. I am working with Ukrainian news agency Ukraine 4.

MS NAUERT: Hi, sir.

QUESTION: So last week, you made a statement about the UN peacekeeping mission to Ukraine, and thank you for that. And question is: What will be the position of the United States in the current session of the UN General Assembly? Are you going to discuss it with other members of UN Security Council, and are you ready to support the Ukraine – Ukraine’s initiative? Thank you.

MS NAUERT: And Ukraine initiative to do what?

QUESTION: To – about the UN peacekeeping mission in the eastern part.

MS NAUERT: Ah, okay. The Russian proposal for a UN peacekeeping —

QUESTION: And the Ukrainian proposal then.

MS NAUERT: Okay, okay, okay. Got it. So I want to make this clear and I don’t want to jump ahead of anything that would happen at the UN General Assembly. We are still working out our meetings at the United Nations. We don’t have a full set – we don’t have all of our meetings just set. I expect to be able to provide a rundown of the meetings that we have scheduled hopefully tomorrow, and then the White House will issue theirs at some point too.

In terms of peacekeepers and that idea that you bring up, we support the Normandy partners. That has not changed. They have an effort to try to implement the Minsk agreements. That is something that we stand firmly behind. That is indicative in the fact that we brought back Ambassador Kurt Volker to help facilitate that.

The second thing I want to mention: We believe the possibility of a UN peacekeeping force for eastern Ukraine is certainly an idea that is worth exploring. I think that’s something that I touched on last week. We consider that a possible means of protecting Ukrainian citizens regardless of their ethnicity, their nationality. We see it potentially as a pathway to restoring Ukrainian sovereignty and also territorial – excuse me – integrity.

However, I want to be clear about this, and that is any such force should have a broad mandate for peace and security throughout the occupied territory of Ukraine up to and including the border with Russia in order to avoid deepening or institutionalizing the divisions inside Ukraine. Other nations, European nations – Germany is one example – agrees with us on this matter. Our goal is simple. We would like to restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity and also protect Ukrainians no matter what their religion is, no matter what their ethnicity is, or their language.

And if I may, I also want to mention that we believe it’s important to improve the security situation as a first step. We’ve called repeatedly for Russia to ensure a real and durable ceasefire. We would like them to disengage along the line of contact, withdraw heavy weapons, and allow full, unfettered, and safe access to the international monitors, including the international border.

I might also add that we lost an American, who was one of the OSCE monitors, earlier this year in Ukraine, and we want to express our condolences again to his family and make sure that monitors who can provide full, fair information in the field have the ability to operate in a dangerous environment safely. And we think that that is important. Okay.

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