Tillerson: Ukraine exit is key to Russian reset

By Carol Morello | Washington Post

VIENNA – The gulf between the United States and Russia showed no signs of narrowing Thursday, as top diplomats from the two countries faced off over a proposed U.N. peacekeeping force in Ukraine.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson vowed there will be no easing of sanctions on Russia or warming of relations until Moscow stops supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine and abandons the “apparent annexation” of Crimea in 2014.

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“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.

“And we’ve made this clear to Russia from the very beginning, that we must address Ukraine,” he said. “It stands as the single most difficult obstacle to us renormalizing a relationship with Russia, which we badly would like to do.”

The 57-member OSCE is one of the few regional organizations in which both the United States and Russia are members. U.S. officials had hoped it would provide a venue to discuss modifications to a Russian proposal for a U.N. peacekeeping force in eastern Ukraine. Since 2014, more than 10,000 people have died in the war between Ukraine’s government and Russian-backed separatists.

The United States and its allies want peacekeepers to have a broad mission to protect about 600 OSCE monitors currently on the ground and investigate cease-fire violations throughout eastern Ukraine. They worry that a more limited mission of just protecting the monitors, as Russia …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

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