I consider it unfortunate that the occasion of my first appearance here is one in which I must condemn the aggressive actions of Russia. It is unfortunate because it is a replay of far too many instances over many years. In which United States representatives have needed to do that.
It should not have to be that way. We do want to better our relations with Russia. However the dire situation in Eastern Ukraine, is one that demands clear and strong condemnation of Russian actions. The United States stands with the people of Ukraine. Who have suffered for nearly three years under Russian occupation and military intervention.
Until Russia and the separatists it supports respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, this crisis will continue. Our Crimea related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine.