US Official: Ukraine Cease-fire Being Violated 'Daily'
by VOA News May 18, 2015
A senior U.S. diplomat says a cease-fire deal in eastern Ukraine 'is being violated on a daily basis.'
U.S. Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland made the statement Monday after talks in Moscow with Russian officials.
Nuland said the violations of the Western-brokered deal agreed to in February in Minsk by Russia, Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels 'need to stop.'
Nuland suggested that separatists in eastern Ukraine were responsible for the bulk of the violations, and called for OSCE monitors to be allowed in the conflict zone to verify how the cease-fire is being implemented.
Nuland, who was holding talks in Moscow with two Russian deputy foreign ministers, was expected to explore ways of bolstering the fragile truce in a conflict which over the past 13 months has claimed more than 6,100 lives.
Russia is widely seen as actively supporting the separatists with manpower and weapons, a charge Moscow denies.
Nuland's visit to Moscow comes on the heels of a meeting on May 12 in Sochi of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and at a time of months of heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow over Ukraine.
Despite differences, Nuland's visit was seen as a sign that bilateral relations may be improving, the Kremlin said on Monday, pointing to last week's meeting in Sochi.
'When President Putin received Minister Lavrov and Secretary of State Kerry in Sochi last week, they talked about the need for closer dialogue and a pragmatic exchange of views at various levels,' said Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, speaking to reporters in Moscow.
Nuland, who was holding talks in Moscow with two Russian deputy foreign ministers, was expected to explore ways of bolstering a fragile cease-fire in eastern Ukraine. Russia is widely seen as actively supporting the rebels with manpower and weapons, a charge Moscow denies.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, after meeting with Nuland, was said to have offered a somewhat more downbeat assessment of relations with the U.S., especially on the issue of the conflict in Ukraine.
"From the Russian side it was said that we are not satisfied with the state of [bilateral relations], but we are prepared to continue dialogue and discussion, be that about military-political or humanitarian matters," said Ryabkov, according to RIA Novosti news agency.
Russia blames the conflict in Ukraine on what it sees as meddling by the United States in a region Moscow has traditionally seen as its sphere of influence.
Nuland, who held talks in Kyiv with Ukrainian officials over the weekend before visiting Moscow, has been strongly criticized in Russia in the past over her support of mass protests in Ukraine which led to the ouster of pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych in February of 2014.
Moscow has called his toppling a coup.
Some material for this report came from RFE/RL and Reuters.
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