Secretary of State Rex Tillerson blasted Russian Federation on Thursday for inciting violence in Ukraine by backing rebels and vowed that the USA will keep sanctions in place until Moscow withdraws its forces from the country.
Tillerson, who will meet with his Moscow counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, later Thursday, said the USA 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. "It stands as the single most hard obstacle to us renormalizing the relationship with Russian Federation, which we badly would like to do", he said.
"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.
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Tillerson made no mention on Thursday of Russia's efforts to meddle in the United States' 2016 presidential election, though he hinted at such activities a day earlier in Brussels, saying that Moscow's efforts to "undermine Western institutions" remained an obstacle to warmer ties with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
"Russia is arming, leading, training and fighting alongside anti-government forces".
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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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 no sign of progress at Thursday's meeting.
In his speech, he referred to the 2015 Minsk ceasefire agreement, brokered in the Belarussian capital by France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine.
"We will never accept Russia's occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea".
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"Russia's aggression in Ukraine remains the biggest threat to European security", he said on Wednesday.