The United States would "badly" like to lift sanctions against Russian Federation but will not do so until conflict in eastern Ukraine is resolved, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Thursday, calling that the main obstacle to normal ties, Reuters reported.
Tillerson, who met with representatives to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Thursday, said that the Trump administration made clear to the Kremlin from the beginning that settling tensions in Ukraine would be a necessary to forging closer ties between the USA and Russian Federation.
"And this is the only way forward, for the alternative is really freezing, and we fairly well understand that there are no any other alternatives", the minister said.
"We can have difference in other arenas. but when one country invades another that is a difference that is hard to look past or to reconcile", he warned.
"We've reached an absolute low point regarding confidence between the main players", Thomas Greminger, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's secretary general, admitted as talks began.
But Western powers, led by the United States, want a force with a robust mandate that would allow it to protect the 600 OSCE monitors there, police ceasefire lines and investigate ceasefire breaches across eastern Ukraine.
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"Russia is arming, leading, training and fighting alongside anti-government forces".
In principle, both Moscow and Washington have now expressed support for the idea of a United Nations peacekeeping mission to end the war between Kiev's government forces and Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country.
"Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russian Federation returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine", Tillerson added.
Tillerson's focus on Ukraine came as he met with European diplomats at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, established during the Cold War to serve as a bridge between East and West.
"I think it's significant that we're talking about the right thing", he said.
Tillerson, who will meet with his Moscow counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, later Thursday, said the United States will "never accept Russia's occupation and attempted annexation" of Crimea and will continue sanctions until the peninsula is returned to full control of Ukraine.
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