Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Ukraine - biggest obstacle to normal Russian Federation ties, says Tillerson

Ukraine - biggest obstacle to normal Russian Federation ties, says Tillerson

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has reportedly conveyed to his USA counterpart North Korea's desire for direct talks with the U.S to seek security guarantees.

Tillerson insisted the U.S. could never overlook Russia's "attempted annexation" of Crimea or Moscow's military intrusion in eastern Ukraine.

"We can have differences in other arenas, in Syria, we can have differences in other areas", Tillerson said.

"And Russia's continued use of hybrid warfare seeks to undermine Western institutions, and this stands as a significant obstacle to normalizing our relations, as well".

"We urge concentrating on (the) elaboration and implementation of specific additional confidence building measures in order to secure the cyber security and not to waste breath with unfounded accusations without any fact", Sergei Lavrov told a meeting of foreign ministers from OSCE countries.

His words about Russian Federation were unstinting.

"We should be clear about the source of this violence", Tillerson said, referring to increasing ceasefire violations recorded by OSCE monitors in eastern Ukraine.

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"We will never accept Russia's occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea", Tillerson said.

Russia has brought forward a proposal for a United Nations force to protect OSCE truce monitors deployed in eastern Ukraine where Russian-backed rebels are fighting Kiev's troops. "Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russian Federation returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine", he said.

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.

"The building of NATO's potential on the eastern flank, the course toward the unconditional expansion of the alliance, the deployment of USA missile defenses in Europe, significantly undermines the principles of indivisibility and security", Lavrov said.

Tillerson's diagnosis of the problem was striking in its downplaying of other key disputes, particularly Russia's meddling in the USA presidential election.

Both Tillerson and Lavrov made their sharp remarks before they sat down to meet in late afternoon.

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