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Tillerson: US, Russia could normalize ties but for Ukraine

Tillerson: US, Russia could normalize ties but for Ukraine

But the major powers in the dispute are still far apart, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went so far as to declare that the stand-off over Ukraine was the single most important obstacle to warmer U.S. relations with Moscow.

Speaking before the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe as part of a three-country, four-day European trek, Tillerson criticized Russian Federation for violating a ceasefire agreement and for denying it has armed and funded separatists in the Ukraine for the last four years, according to Reuters.

"We've made this clear to Russian Federation from the very beginning, that we must address Ukraine", Tillerson told a news conference with his Austrian counterpart Sebastian Kurz.

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 US election.

But Russia envisions a limited force to simply protect the existing 600-strong group of unarmed OSCE observers, who are struggling to monitor a shaky ceasefire in a conflict that has already left 10,000 dead since 2014.

"We should be clear about the source of this violence", Tillerson said about ceasefire violations that the security agency has observed.

US troops may become targets after US Jerusalem decision - Iraqi paramilitary group
In November, Ted Poe from the US House of Representatives proposed imposing "terrorism-related sanctions" on Nujaba. The bill claims Kaabi took part in " multiple mortar and rocket attacks " on the Green Zone in Baghdad in 2008.

After long resisting the idea, Russia has suggested deploying a United Nations peacekeeping force to help end the war between Ukraine's government and Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country that has killed over 10,000 people since 2014.

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.

Trump has said he wants to improve relations with Russian Federation, but Tillerson appears to have a different agenda. We get progress, that's what we get.

These are the key steps, the USA official said.

Economic sanctions were placed on Russian Federation by then-US President Barack Obama in 2014 following the country's military action in Crimea and Ukraine.

In remarks at an OSCE session, Tillerson said that the US 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.


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