Tuesday, 21 November, 2017

U.S. appoints ex-NATO envoy to handle Ukraine crisis

Heather Davidson | 10 July, 2017, 00:55

The United States says it is disappointed by the lack of progress in peace talks on Donbas, eastern Ukraine, therefore a U.S. special envoy has been appointed for Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has announced.

"It is necessary for Russian Federation to take the first steps to deescalate the situation in the east part of Ukraine..."

Tillerson says that the USA goal in Ukraine is to restore the country's territorial sovereignty and integrity.

Moscow has repeatedly said the Ukraine crisis is an internal conflict and that Kiev is not fulfilling its part of the Minsk agreements and refusing to negotiate with its own people in Donbass.

"The U.S. and European Union sanctions on Russian Federation will remain in place until Moscow reverses the actions that triggered these particular sanctions", the secretary of state said.

The US imposed sanctions against Russian Federation, with the latest expansion in late June, after Russia's reunification with Crimea following a 2014 referendum.

The conflict as well as Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 have pushed ties between Moscow and the West to their lowest point since the Cold War.

Volker will "coordinate all State Department efforts to bring a resolution to the conflict created when Russian Federation invaded Crimea and later eastern Ukraine", Tillerson spokesman R.C. Hammond told Bloomberg. He thanked Tillerson for the continued USA commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and expressed deep appreciation for his "symbolic and timely visit immediately after the meetings at the G-20 in Hamburg" where Trump met with Putin.

Tillerson urged the Kremlin "to respect the ceasefire, by pulling back the heavy weapons and (allowing) the OSCE (pan-European security body) tocarry out their responsibilities" under the deal struck in February 2015.

Poroshenko hailed United States involvement and reiterated Tillerson's commitment to seeking a negotiated peace deal.

Tillerson's short visit to Kiev comes as the USA explores taking a greater role in a European-led effort to end the three-year conflict in Ukraine's east that has claimed around 10,000 lives.

"In all candidness, we did not expect an answer other than the one we received", he said Sunday.

"Ukraine's come a long way, you know we want to acknowledge that, and we still have more to do".

He noted that Mr. Trump agreed with Putin on the cyber front, and that they are looking to explore ways to deal with cyber threats and cyber security.

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