Unlike Trump, Tillerson Still Wants Russian Sanctions Over Ukraine Annexation

Unlike Trump, Tillerson Still Wants Russian Sanctions Over Ukraine Annexation

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday there could be no normal relations with Russian Federation until Moscow ended its support for separatists in Ukraine and returned Crimea, in comments likely to reassure Western allies.

Speaking at a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), also attended by his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, Tillerson said Moscow was to blame for increased violence in eastern Ukraine and that had to stop.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that despite a certain amount of progress being made, there is still instability in some parts of the Balkans.

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. "Russia is arming, leading, training and fighting alongside anti-government forces".

"The issue that stands in the way is Ukraine", Tillerson said.

The UN peacekeeping force was not on the official agenda for the two-day OSCE gathering in Vienna, which involved some 40 foreign ministers, but was expected to be a big topic on the sidelines.

"We call on Russian Federation and its proxies to end the harassment, intimidation and its attacks on the OSCE special monitoring mission", he demanded.

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He stated Russian Federation should stick to the Minsk agreements, a pair of peace deals forged in 2014 and 2015 that have often broken down during the conflict.

Tillerson said he hoped to agree to deploy United Nations troops to eastern Ukraine, an idea the Russian president floated in September.

Asked later what commitments he had received at the meeting, Tillerson said: "I'm not going to tell you specifically what we get".

In his speech, he referred to the 2015 Minsk ceasefire agreement, brokered in the Belarussian capital by France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine.

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.

The U.S. has decried Moscow's military involvement in eastern Ukraine, where it has backed pro-Russia separatists, and its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

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