Kurt Volker

U.S. Envoy Calls Russian Activities In Eastern Ukraine An ‘Occupation’

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The U.S. special envoy on Ukraine has called Russian activity in eastern Ukraine an “occupation” and has called on Moscow to begin implementing its obligations under the 2015 Minsk accords — the international agreement targeted at ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists.

U.S. State Department Special Representative Kurt Volker made the remarks on May 28 while talking to journalists about the prospects for Ukraine’s future under newly elected President Volodymyr Zelenskiy .”Russia has a lot that it needs to do to implement the Minsk agreements,” Volker told journalists via a video link from Washington. “Ukraine also has its responsibilities .”

The U.S. envoy said the United States now have to see “where we stand and whether we can make progress” in discussions with Russia following the April 21 Ukrainian presidential runoff vote that brought Zelenskiy to strength.

“So far in contacts, we had earlier this year, the Russians made clear that they did not see an opportunity for productive discussions during the course of the presidential campaign” in Ukraine, Volker said.

With Ukraine now planning for early parliamentary elections in July, Volker said it stays unclear whether progress can be made yet in talks with Russia.

“We will have to see how it stands now, during the course of this parliamentary campaign, and when an appropriate time would be to meet and follow up,” Volker said.

“We want to make sure that we are putting on the table all of the issues about Minsk implementation, starting with a cease-fire, withdrawal of foreign forces, the disarming of illegal armed groups, and creating a situation of security in Donbas so that additional political steps that are also part of Minsk can be taken,” he added.

“These include amnesty for people who have committed crimes as part of the conflict, implementing a special status for the region under Ukraine’s constitution, holding elections, and — of course, eventually — the peaceful reintegration of this territory with the rest of Ukraine,” Volker said. “Those are the topics to discuss.”

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