Tiller­son urges Moscow to take first step to ease Ukraine con­flict

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son urged Rus­sia yes­ter­day to take the “first step” to ease the bloody sep­a­ratist con­flict in east­ern Ukraine, which Kiev and the West be­lieve is be­ing fu­elled by Moscow. Tiller­son said sanc­tions will re­main in place against Rus­sia “un­til Moscow re­verses their ac­tions”. “It is nec­es­sary for Rus­sia to take the first step to de-es­ca­late the sit­u­a­tion in the east part of Ukraine,”Tiller­son said as he made his first visit as Washington’s top diplo­mat to Kiev.

“We are dis­ap­pointed by the lack of progress un­der the Minsk agree­ment,” he added at a joint brief­ing with Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko after they held talks. Tiller­son’s visit to Ukraine fol­lowed a first face-to-face meet­ing be­tween Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Rus­sia’s Vladimir Putin on Fri­day at the G20 sum­mit in Hamburg, Ger­many. The con­flict as well as Rus­sia’s an­nex­a­tion of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 has pushed ties be­tween Moscow and the West to their low­est point since the Cold War.

“We do call on Rus­sia to honor its com­mit­ments,” Tiller­son said yes­ter­day, re­fer­ring to a peace deal aimed at halt­ing the con­flict be­tween Ukrainian gov­ern­ment forces and pro-Rus­sia rebels. Tiller­son urged the Krem­lin “to re­spect the cease­fire, by pulling back the heavy weapons and (al­low­ing) the OSCE (pan-Euro­pean se­cu­rity body) to carry out their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties” un­der the deal struck in Fe­bru­ary 2015. More than 10,000 peo­ple have been killed since the pro-Rus­sian in­sur­gency be­gan in April 2014, which Kiev and the West ac­cuse Moscow of or­ches­trat­ing. The US and the Euro­pean Union have imposed sanc­tions on Rus­sia, though Moscow has de­nied back­ing the rebels.

“The US and EU sanc­tions on Rus­sia will re­main in place un­til Moscow re­verses their ac­tions,” Tiller­son stressed. Ef­forts to se­cure a peace deal have foundered as the fight­ing has dragged on, and nei­ther side ap­pears pre­pared to make con­ces­sions. Tiller­son said he had ap­pointed a spe­cial en­voy to al­low Washington to be more in­volved in a peace process over­seen by Ger­many and France. Poroshenko hailed US in­volve­ment and re­it­er­ated his com­mit­ment to seek­ing a ne­go­ti­ated peace deal.

—AFP

KIEV: This handout picture taken and re­leased by the Ukrainian Pres­i­den­tial Press-service shows Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko, right, and United Na­tions Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res, left, giv­ing a press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day in Kiev.

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