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US slams Russia for aggression in Ukraine
Journal Staff Report

KYIV, Feb. 1 - The U.S. Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has issued a harshly worded statement accusing Russia of "ongoing violations of international law" in Ukraine, RFE/RL reported.

The statement posted on February 1 said Moscow's "aggression" in eastern Ukraine has resulted in "the ongoing conflict that has cost the lives of over 10,000 Ukrainians." It again called on Moscow "and its proxies" to allow international humanitarian assistance into the conflict areas.

"If Russia wants to help address the humanitarian crisis it created, it shouldcontribute to the UN's Humanitarian Response Plan," the statement said.

The U.S. statement also expressed concern for those "brave enough to speak out against Russia's occupation of Crimea," particularly Crimean Tatars. It said Crimean Tatars are persecuted "with impunity" and cited "ongoing raid on Tatar homes" and arrests "on trumped-up charges."

Russia annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea in March 2014, prompting international condemnation and sanctions.

The U.S. statement noted that Russian officials have said the conflict in Ukraine is tantamount to a "civil war."

"We all know the truth -- the brutal war in Donbas is fomented and perpetuated by Russia," the statement countered.

The statement concluded by saying: "We do not, nor will we ever, recognize Russia's occupation and purported annexation of Crimea. Crimea-related sanctions on Russia will remain in place until Russia returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine."

Russia has shown more "openness" to U.S. suggestions on a possible UN peacekeeping mission in war-torn eastern Ukraine, but Washington and Moscow remain far from striking a deal, the U.S. special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker said January 29, three days after a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladislav Surkov, in Dubai.

Volker said he conveyed to Surkov in a phone call earlier this year "a very strong sense of disappointment and frustration in Washington that Russia has done absolutely nothing to end the conflict [in eastern Ukraine], or to withdraw its forces."

Volker said it would be possible "to create the conditions for implementing the Minsk agreements" -- September 2014 and February 2015 pacts aimed at resolving the conflict.

"There was more openness...to talking about how we'd get there," Volker said.

Surkov was quoted by Russia's state-run TASS news agency as saying that U.S. suggestions on deploying a UN peacekeeping mission looked "doable" and that Moscow would study them carefully. (rfe/ez)




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