United States to maintain Russian Federation sanctions until it withdraws from Ukraine, Tillerson says

Lester Mason
December 7, 2017

His remarks on Thursday were made in front of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who's recently been critical of the U.S.'s foreign policy in regards to North Korea.

Tillerson also stood in unity with Europe to maintain sanctions placed against the Russian economy and businessmen by former President Barack Obama, who added even more sanctions last December over Russia's meddling in the USA election.

In remarks at an OSCE session, Tillerson said that the USA would "never accept Russia's occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea", and warned that sanctions related to the matter would remain in place until Moscow returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine.

"We can have differences in other areas, but when one country invades another, that is a difference that is hard to look past or to reconcile", Tillerson told reporters at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a group created during the Cold War to encourage dialogue between East and West.

"We have been clear with Russia that we can not return to business as usual in the NATO-Russia relations, as long as Russia continues its illegal occupation of Ukraine", he said at a press conference at NATO headquarters.

The Russian and USA officials are expected to discuss the situation in Syria and Ukraine, as well as various aspects of bilateral relations.

While both sides have called for a United Nations peacekeeping force in eastern Ukraine, they disagree on the terms of its deployment, and there was little sign of concrete progress at Thursday's meeting.

He pointed out that more civilians had died in the conflict in 2017 than previous year and that ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk had risen by 60 per cent.

"We should be clear about the source of this violence", Tillerson said, referring to increasing ceasefire violations recorded by OSCE monitors in eastern Ukraine. "We call on Russian Federation and its proxies to end its harassment, intimidation and its attacks on the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission".

He also made clear that Washington did not accept Russia's seizure of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. "Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russian Federation returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine".

"In eastern Ukraine we join our European partners in maintaining sanctions until Russian Federation withdraws its forces from the Donbas (region) and meets its Minks commitments", Tillerson added. He accused the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries and the United States of undermining security in Eastern Europe.

In a speech delivered shortly before Tillseron's, Lavrov had denounced what he said was the reckless expansion of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in Eastern Europe and the deployment of USA anti-aircraft missile systems in Europe.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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