Russia Conveys N. Korea's Desire for Direct Talks with US
Russia Conveys N. Korea's Desire for Direct Talks with US
Tillerson says Ukraine is biggest obstacle to normal Russia ties
08 December, 2017, 07:52
The United States would "badly" like to lift sanctions against Russian Federation but will not do so until Moscow has pulled its forces out of eastern Ukraine and Crimea, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Thursday, calling that the main obstacle to normal ties.
Speaking a day ahead of planned talks with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Tillerson said he hoped to convince Moscow to allow a blue helmet force with a robust mandate.
"The issue that stands in the way is Ukraine", Tillerson said.
Russia has brought forward a proposal for a United Nations force to protect OSCE truce monitors deployed in eastern Ukraine where Russian-backed rebels are fighting Kiev's troops. He has said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin's personal denials that Moscow meddled.
"I think it's significant that we're talking about the right thing", he said.
The OSCE has deployed 600 unarmed monitors in Ukraine to investigate and deter ceasefire violations, but they often come under fire from the warring factions. He noted that an American OSCE paramedic working with an observer group was killed in a land mine explosion in April.
"We call on Russian Federation and its proxies to end the harassment, intimidation and its attacks on the OSCE special monitoring mission", he added. But that does not mean the United States acknowledges that Crimea is now a part of Russian Federation, which annexed the peninsula in early 2014 before the conflict expanded into eastern Ukraine around the Donbas region.
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