Kerry to Russia: Live up to Minsk agreement
Iran Press TV
Wed May 13, 2015 12:34PM
US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned Russia to implement a peace deal to end the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, saying sanctions are in place to secure peace in the country.
"I think there was strong agreement among all of the NATO members that this is a critical moment for action by Russia, by the separatists, to live up to the Minsk agreement," Kerry said in the southern Turkish city of Antalya on Wednesday.
He said there was an 'enormous moment of opportunity' to end over a year of fighting in eastern Ukraine.
Kerry, however, said, 'Our preference is not to have sanctions, but the sanctions will be there in an effort to try to secure the peace that everybody wants in Ukraine.'
After his talks to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, the top US diplomat flew to Antalya to brief NATO foreign ministers on his eight hours talks with Russian authorities.
It was the most extensive, high-level talks between Washington and Moscow since the Ukraine conflict erupted in 2014.
The meetings, however, offered no signs of concrete progress to end the crisis in Ukraine, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who had said the talks only helped the two sides to 'better understand each other.'
"And we hope very, very much that President Putin, Russia, the separatists, will come together to work with Ukraine in order to fully implement it (Minsk) and make progress,' said Kerry.
Relations between Washington and Moscow deteriorated last year after pro-Western forces ousted Ukraine's former president Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014.
The US accuses Russia of providing heavy weaponry and training pro-Russian fighters and of deploying air defense systems in eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin denounces the accusations as baseless.
The US and the European Union have already imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia, including visa bans and asset freezes.
The Minsk Protocol was an agreement to halt the war in the Donbass region of Ukraine, signed on 5 September 2014.
By January 2015, however, the Minsk Protocol ceasefire had completely collapsed. A new package of measures meant to stop fighting in the Donbass, called 'Minsk II,' was agreed to on 12 February 2015.
Despite the new peace plan and promises to pull back heavy weapons, Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian forces have been fighting fierce battles.
Russia says Kiev and its Western allies have twisted the peace deal.
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