A short while ago. Russias aggressive actions are a threat to peace and security in europe were prepared to respond forcefully to further russian aggression, but a diplomatic solution is still possible and preferable. If russia chooses it thats, what we, together with our allies and partners, will continue to pursue intently next week at the strategic stability dialogue between the united states and russia and at the meetings of the nato, russia, council and the osce. The organization for security and cooperation in europe ahead of these urgent discussions lets be clear about how we got to this moment. In 2014, the ukrainian people chose a democratic and european future for themselves. Russia responded by manufacturing a crisis and invading ever since russia has occupied ukraines territory in crimea and has orchestrated a war in the eastern part of ukraine, with proxies that it leads trains, supplies and finances that has killed nearly 14 000 people and redrawn ukraines borders by Force beyond its military aggression, moscow has also worked to undermine ukraines democratic institutions, its interfered in ukraines politics and elections, its blocked energy and commerce to intimidate its leaders and pressure its citizens, its used propaganda and disinformation to sow mistrust its launched cyber attacks on the countrys Critical infrastructure, then, starting last march and continuing through the fall russia began a massive unprovoked, build up of military forces and equipment on ukraines border. Nearly 100 000 troops today with plans to mobilize twice that number on very short order.
So how does moscow explain its actions with disinformation? It claims that ukraine is threatening russia, that ukraine seeks to provoke a conflict and that the russian troop buildup and the tanks and heavy artillery are all purely defensive. Thats, like the fox saying it had to attack the hen house because its occupants somehow pose a threat. Weve seen this gas lighting before when russia invaded ukraine in 2014, he claimed that ukraine was the aggressor to justify pre, planned military action and again today we see a significant effort to push propaganda against ukraine, nato and the united states. That includes malign social media operations. The use of overt and covert online proxy media outlets, the infection of disinformation into tv and radio programming hosting conferences designed to influence attendees into falsely believing that ukraine, not russia, is at fault for heightened tensions in the region and the leveraging of cyber operations to deface Media outlets and conduct hack and release operations that is hacking and then releasing private data and communications. No one should be surprised if russia instigates a provocation or incident then tries to use it to justify military intervention, hoping that by the time the world realizes the rules. Itll be too late. The idea that ukraine is the aggressor in this situation is absurd. Its russia that invaded ukraine nearly eight years ago, its russia, that is the military occupier of part of ukraine in crimea, its russia, that to this day, is fueling a war in eastern ukraine.
Its russia that has failed to implement any of its miscommitments indeed is actively violating many of them and refuses to acknowledge its a party to the conflict. Its russia thats taken aim repeatedly at ukraines democracy and its russia thats sending troops to ukraines border. Once again. All these actions are violations of ukraines sovereignty and an immediate and urgent challenge to peace and stability in europe. Its also worth noting that moscow is simultaneously driving the false narrative that nato is threatening russia, that nato plans to station military infrastructure in ukraine to stir conflict with russia, that nato swore after the cold war, not to admit countries in eastern europe and that nato has Broken those promises, each of those claims is false. Nato is a defensive alliance. It exists to protect not to attack thats, why, after the cold war, nato greatly reduced its conventional and nuclear forces, because nato didnt need to maintain the same defensive posture any longer from then on. Nato didnt strengthen its defensive posture in europe until russia invaded ukraine in 2014 and even then it was done in a limited and measured fashion to be prepared to meet further russian military action against members of the alliance. Additionally, nato never promised not to admit new members. It could not and would not the open door policy was a core provision of the 1949 north atlantic treaty that founded nato, the russian president at the end of the cold war, mikhail gorbachev, was asked directly about this in an interview in 2014 and said very clearly That the topic of nato expansion was not discussed at all in negotiations about german reunification that led to the end of the cold war.
There was no promise that nato wouldnt expand secretary of state james baker, said the same thing membership. The alliance has always been a decision between nato and countries that aspire to belong no one else, and in the istanbul charter for european security, russia itself affirmed the right of countries to choose or change the security arrangements that they have, including alliances. Russia is now demanding that both the united states and nato sign treaties to withdraw nato forces stationed in the territory of allies in central eastern europe and to prohibit ukraine from ever joining nato. They want to draw us into a debate about nato, rather than focus on the matter at hand, which is their aggression toward ukraine. We wont be diverted from that issue, because whats happening in ukraine is not only about ukraine. Its part of a broader pattern of destabilizing dangerous and often illegal behavior by moscow as it tries to build a sphere of influence that covers the countries that were once under soviet dominion and to stop them from realizing their democratic aspirations as fully sovereign, independent nations. Lets. Remember that over the past two decades russia invaded two neighboring countries, ukraine and georgia, and maintains troops and munitions in moldova against the will of the government. Its interfered in elections in many nations, including our own, its used chemical weapons to try to assassinate opponents of the russian government, including poisoning, sergey and julia eskerpal, when they were on nato ally territory in england, its violated international arms control agreements pulled back from long established Confidence building and transparency measures supported violent dictators, enabled crimes against humanity in places like syria, moscows actions have threatened to set a new precedent on european soil, whereby basic international principles that are vital to peace and security are up for debate that the borders and territorial integrity Of the state cannot be changed by force that it is the inherent right of citizens in the democracy to make their countries decisions and determine their countrys future.
That all members of the international community are bound by common rules and should face costs if they dont live up to the solemn commitments that they make. These principles transcend ukraine. They transcend europe. They are the fundamental rules that underpin the international order. That, together, we have sought to build to sustain and as necessary, adapt in challenging them. Russia seeks to challenge the international system itself and to unravel our transatlantic alliance, erode our unity pressure democracies into failure. Diplomacy is the only responsible way to resolve this crisis. We are fully committed its a meaningful reciprocal dialogue with russia, just as were fully committed to consulting and coordinating with our allies and partners, including the european union. In all our discussions in all formats, we would far prefer a diplomatic path and a diplomatic solution to a crisis that russia has brought forth thats. What next weeks, meetings of the u.s russia, strategic stability, dialogue, the nato, russia, council and the osce are all about, and we believe that there are areas where we can make progress if russia has legitimate concerns about our actions. The united states, our nato allies, our osce partners, are willing to hear them and to try to address them if the kremlin is prepared to reciprocate regarding its own, dangerous and destabilizing behavior next week, well reconfirm our readiness to increase transparency, institute, new risk reduction measures and Renew efforts to address nuclear and conventional threats to european security, but again it has to be a two way street.
Our goal is to have a relationship with russia that is predictable and stable, so that we can cooperate when its in our mutual interest and address our differences with an open and frank dialogue. Itll be very difficult to make actual progress if russia continues to escalate its military buildup and its inflammatory rhetoric and weve been clear with russia about what it will face if it continues on this path, including economic measures that we havent used before massive consequences. That clarity has been powerfully echoed in recent weeks by the g7, the worlds leading democratic economies by the european union and by nato. So we hope russia makes a different choice and again were fully committed to diplomacy and to see if we can produce results. After all, russia and the united states have done it before. Even during times of great tension, we negotiated the helsinki accords. We created the osce, we signed the inf treaty and other arms control agreements. Just this week, we joined forces to issue a statement with all permanent members of the u.n security council to affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and so should never be fought. We committed to our work together on the space station and were working together to bring iran back into compliance with the jcpoa.