THURSDAY, JANUARY 24, 2019
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Volker, Surkov to meet on Ukraine in Dubai
Journal Staff Report

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 - U.S. Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker says he is scheduled to hold a new round of talks with Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov in Dubai on Jan. 26, the Voice of America reported Monday.

Volker told VOA's Ukrainian Service that he will arrive in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday and stop in Kyiv on Thursday, before heading to Dubai to discuss the war in eastern Ukraine and prospects for the introduction and possible format of the peacekeeping mission.

Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, who confirmed the meeting at a Monday press conference, said he's eager to see how talks go after Washington's recent unveiling of new sanctions against Russia.

Kyiv, he said, is curious to see "how we can use new U.S. sanctions" to forge some kind of sustainable peace plan.

Volker called his last meeting with Surkov in Belgrade last November "a step back."

"It was a welcoming meeting and a positive discussion, but it was a step back," he said, calling Russia unready to entertain the idea of introducing a United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Donbass.

"We will see what will happen at our next meeting," he said.

On Jan. 19, the U.S. Senate failed to agree on a budget bill to fund the government, which forced many federal agencies to temporarily suspend their work.

Volker and Surkov met three times in the past, most recently in November, in Serbian capital of Belgrade.

So far their discussions have yielded no results to end Russias war in the Donbas that has killed more than 10,000 people in four years. Volker said many times that his primary task as the U.S. special envoy was to catalyze the implementation of stalled 2015 Minsk peace accord.

Last week, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev suggested moving Ukraine peace talks from Minsk to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. In his words, the idea came from the U.S. President Donald Trump, who said the talks reached a deadlock and suggested changing the location.

Astana already hosts peace talks on Syria, but it is unlikely Ukraine negotiations will move there too, Klimkin said.

The problem with the Minsk platform is caused by the Russian side. It is the problem of unwillingness to follow commitments and twist all agreements, he said. I dont see how relocation from Minsk to Astana would bring us new, positive results. (voa/ez)

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