Recently I criticized the President for silence on the events in Ukraine. Today the situation worsened, as the government in Kiev sent riot police to break up peaceful demonstrations. And tonight, Secretary of State Kerry responded with an unusual statement, the full text of which is below.
What’s unusual is his decision to eschew the usual State Department vocabulary: saying we’re troubled, or concerned, or some other form of diplomatic lingo. What he said was “the United States expresses its disgust.”
I’ve followed State pretty closely for about 35 years now, since the Reagan days, and I do not ever recall the use of the term “disgust.” Bravo to Kerry! The situation absolutely calls for that word, which must reflect his genuine reaction to tonight’s news from Kiev. Perhaps the United States cannot change the situation there, but we owe it the courageous demonstrators to speak the truth about what is happening. And that is what Kerry did tonight.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release December 10, 2013
Statement by Secretary Kerry
Statement on Events in Ukraine
The United States expresses its disgust with the decision of Ukrainian authorities to meet the peaceful protest in Kyiv’s Maidan Square with riot police, bulldozers, and batons, rather than with respect for democratic rights and human dignity. This response is neither acceptable nor does it befit a democracy.
Last week in Brussels and Moldova, I underscored publicly the importance of all sides avoiding violence and called on President Yanukovych to fulfill the aspirations of the Ukranian people. We put the government on notice about our concern.
As Vice President Biden made clear to President Yanukovych during their phone call yesterday, respect for democractic principles, including freedom of assembly, is fundamental to the United States’ approach to Ukraine. This is a universal value not just an American one. For weeks, we have called on President Yanukovych and his government to listen to the voices of his people who want peace, justice and a European future. Instead, Ukraine’s leaders appear tonight to have made a very different choice.
We call for utmost restraint. Human life must be protected. Ukrainian authorities bear full responsibility for the security of the Ukrainian people.
As church bells ring tonight amidst the smoke in the streets of Kyiv, the United States stands with the people of Ukraine. They deserve better.