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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Press Roundtable

Press Availability
Victoria Nuland
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Luxembourg, Luxembourg
May 13, 2014


ASSISTANT SECRETARY NULAND: So thanks everybody. It is terrific to be back in Luxembourg. I don’t think I’ve been here since I was at NATO so it’s an opportunity to consolidate the work we do together with a fantastic ally and EU partner and also now a UN Security Council member, so it is absolutely terrific for the United States that we have Luxembourg on the Council, because we share values, we share a perspective on global leadership. We’ve been able to do a lot together. Not simply on the traditional transatlantic issues that we work, but now on the humanitarian crisis in Syria, the work we’re doing together on Sudan, on Libya, so it was an important time to come and I very much appreciated the opportunity to meet the prime Minister this morning and I had dinner last night with foreign minister, an old friend and colleague, and went through all the issues. We also had a good conversation, both with the foreign minister but especially with the prime minister this morning about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the opportunity that this offers for jobs and for growth on both sides of the Atlantic. And we talked about the importance of really getting out and talking to the public, to businesses in Luxembourg, about what this trade agreement can bring. Big businesses always know how to find markets, but what we want to do with this, both in the U.S. and in Luxembourg, and across Europe, is to really stimulate medium and small businesses to find investment opportunities on both sides, and we think that there’s a lot of opportunity here. So why don’t I pause there and go to what’s on your minds?

We obviously talked about Ukraine and Russia in both meetings, because it really is changing the transatlantic landscape, the transatlantic composition and there’s a lot of work we have to do together. I’ll just say one word there, I think we are united whether we’re talking about the U.S. in Luxembourg or whether we’re talking about the broader conversation that the U.S. is having with EU and NATO partners. That we’ve got four things we have to do: we have to support Ukraine and its right and the right of the Ukrainian people to choose a more democratic, corruption-free future and protect and support the elections that they’re going to have on May 25th; the second thing is the costs that we’re imposing on Russia for the choices they’ve already made and to deter further aggressive actions - that’s the sanctions piece - but also to keep the door open for diplomacy as you saw Secretary Kerry do with the action (inaudible) at the conference on April 17th and now in our support for a renewed push for diplomacy through the OSCE. And then the last piece is reassurance for NATO allies and the work we’re doing at NATO to ensure we are, as we like to say, “28 for 28”. That all of us are on land, sea, and air making absolutely clear that NATO space is inviolable and that we are deploying strongly to show presence on our frontline border, to ensure that everybody knows that Article 5 means what it says. So we talked about all those aspects, both with the foreign minister and with the prime minister.

Why don’t we go to questions, do any of you have any questions?

Or is it all clear?

QUESTION: Yes, I would like to ask you, so the U.S. and you don’t seem to pull in the same direction on the Ukraine and obviously the U.S. seems to favor a much tougher stance towards Russia, whereas the big member states of the EU prefer a more moderate approach. Have you come to grips with that problem?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY NULAND: Actually I don’t agree with that characterization at all. That’s certainly not the way it’s felt from Washington. Whether we’re talking about the support that we’re giving to Ukraine, supporting them in the IMF, supporting them in the OSCE, supporting them for elections, we’ve been working hand in hand with them where U.S. support and the EU support complement each other and where we’re pushing together with Ukrainians to address long-standing dangers like corruption. And on the sanctions side, at every stage where we’ve had to impose more sanctions we’ve done it together. Our lists are very congruent and now in terms of the conversation that we’re having about the importance of sending a very clear signal about our readiness to impose scalpel-like sectoral sanctions if Russian aggression continues. I was in Brussels yesterday with Under Secretary Sherman, we had a very clear and good conversation, Secretary Kerry and the President have been having good conversations with their counterparts, including you saw a week ago when Chancellor Merkel was with us in Washington, a very clear joint signal from President Obama and Chancellor Merkel that if the elections are disrupted that will bring these kinds of sectoral sanctions, so I think we are really working very well in sync now.

QUESTION: What more do you know about the sanctions? What’s planned?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY NULAND: What’s next? So, as you know, we’ve been focused on individual sanctions for those involved in either orchestrating or implementing the policy and then on the, the seizure of Crimea, the aggression in the east, and the U.S. has also expanded that list to include those who fund and enable the president and his apparat – so those close to him. We’re now talking about if the elections are disrupted, or if we see more Russian troop movements into Ukraine, having to move to what we call scalpel-like sectoral sanctions. So you’d be looking at sanctions, on the U.S. side we’re talking about sanctions in the energy sector, financial sector, defense sector, primarily in the direction of denying new investment into Russia. So not looking to cut off what we’ve already done, but making clear that our companies are not ready to take investment to the next stage. And that’s something we feel we absolutely have to develop and make clear, primarily as a deterrent, in the hope we don’t have to use it, because we can work through these issues together.

QUESTION: Are you supporting the Ukrainian army? Providing logistics and weapons, or whatever?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY NULAND: I think you know that we’ve made clear that our support at this stage will be non-lethal, for Ukrainian security services. So we’ve provided about 18 million dollars in non-lethal support. We’re talking about support for border security forces, training, barbed wire, meals ready to eat, tents, equipment, you know that kind of non-lethal, we have not provided lethal assistance at this stage.


QUESTION: You said 80 or 18?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY NULAND: 18. One eight. One eight.

QUESTION: If you’ll allow, there is a much larger dependency on Russian gas and oil on Europe’s side than as compared to the United States. Have other plans between the U.S. and Europe about a possible, sort of, a new approach to the energy security for European allies in case of a Russian embargo on, on Western Europe?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY NULAND: Well, first of all, just to remind and for Europe to have some confidence, that, you know, were Russia to take that kind of step it would be, as we say, eating its own seed corn. Russia depends on the revenue it gets from Europe for oil and gas. Russia is 50% dependent on the European market whereas Europeans are only 9% dependent on the Russian market. So we need to have confidence that if we have to go to sectoral sanctions we can develop them in a way that has far more impact on the Russian economy than it has on us. But thank you for this question, because as you know, we’ve been working for more than a decade with Europeans on energizing the inter-, intra- European energy market. Its energy security has been a priority in the transatlantic conversation for more than a decade, but as President Obama said when he gave his speech in Brussels at the Beaux Arts some six week ago one of the things that comes out of this set of challenges in terms of intensifying and strengthening the transatlantic composition going forward is the absolute necessity of kicking into higher gear the work we’re doing as a transatlantic community, but also within Europe, to strengthen energy security. To make that European energy market more dynamic, to really build the interconnectors, the alternative energy options, the LNG opportunities, the shale gas opportunities which are going to make gas and electricity and energy prices go down in Europe, force Gazprom to offer more competitive prices because there’s more competition in this market. So we’re working very intensively with Commissioner Oettinger, with the EU, with member states, on the steps that you can take to harden Europe from this kind of vulnerability and to create, as I said, a more unified and dynamic market. And we’re already seeing it in the work we’ve done just in the last month: EU and the Ukraine to get reverse flows of energy to Ukraine, so Slovak gas, Poland, Hungary, and we’ve done that just in a month, so we can do much more together, we think, to energize the market.

Shall we do one more? This gentleman didn’t get a chance. I don’t know if you had anything to say?

QUESTION: You said that the area in NATO is inviolable, but Ukraine is not a member of NATO.


QUESTION: So how do you argue with this point?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY NULAND: Well, again I think we have a two-track policy, or as I said a four-track policy really, but in terms of Ukraine it is the work that EU and NATO allies and partners are doing to support Ukraine. So support economic opportunity through the IMF program, through bilateral U.S.-EU and nation state assistance in countering corruption, in diversifying their energy opportunities, in taking advantage of some of the new legislation that Ukraine has passed in order to be ready for association with Europe, in order to be ready for the IMF to make them stronger, but also the election support. You know we’re going to have some thousand international monitors for these elections on May 25th through the OSCE, Luxembourg is giving monitors, the U.S. is giving monitors, but also some 4,000 Ukrainian monitors and that’s really, really important to support the Ukrainian people’s right to make their own democratic choice through the ballot box for their future among more than 20 candidates, rather than through the barrel of a gun or behind a barricade of burning tires, which is what these little green men and these separatists are offering. So that’s the support for Ukraine peace, but also to deter outside aggression through sanctions is necessary, and that’s what we’re working on.

Thanks very much. Great to see you all. Sorry it’s so short, we’re on a fast schedule here today, but start writing about T-TIP and start getting interested in it, because it really is an opportunity for Luxembourg, you know, the big companies know how to do it, but the medium companies should be trading in Kansas and New Mexico, they really should. Great to see you.

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