US taps ex-envoy to NATO to resolve Ukraine crisis

"It is necessary for Russian Federation to take the first steps to de-escalate the situation in the eastern part of Ukraine", Tillerson told reporters.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday named a former North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ambassador and National Security Council director as the United States' special envoy to Ukraine.

Volker will oversee US efforts to press Ukraine and Russian Federation to fully comply with the Minsk Agreement, which lays out a roadmap for reducing the conflict that has claimed some 10,000 lives over the past three years.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on July 5 that Tillerson would "reaffirm" Washington's "commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity" and encourage Kyiv to continue implementing reforms to strengthen its "economic, political, and military resilience".

The continuing war in the industrial Donbas region has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced about 1.7 million, and dealt a heavy blow to Ukraine as it tries to break with Russian Federation and integrate with the European Union.

Tillerson did not mention Crimea during the Sunday press conference, but he did suggest that Russia's annexation of the peninsula is still a major point of contention in the ongoing diplomatic talks on sanctions, reports the Washington Post.




During a short visit to Poland ahead of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, this week - on the sidelines of which he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time - U.S. leader Donald Trump called on Russia to "cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere".

Tillerson has appointed a special envoy to examine possibilities for jump-starting implementation of a two-year-old peace roadmap known as the Minsk Agreement.

Photo Mr. Tillerson, left, assured Mr. Poroshenko during their meeting that the United States was setting a high bar for lifting sanctions on Russian Federation.

He also served as the U.S. Permanent Representative to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in the final months of Bush's administration and in the early months the Obama administration. "That's why the keys to a peaceful settlement are in Moscow". "We want to acknowledge that, (but) we still have more to do", he said.

Speaking to a group of reform advocates at the USA ambassador's residence, Tillerson praised Ukraine's progress in combating graft but made clear that more must be accomplished.

After a meeting later Sunday with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Poroshenko called on the world body to take a more active role in addressing Ukraine's problems. "After the talks in Hamburg at the G20 summit we were informed today in detail about what was discussed, and we agreed on our further actions", Poroshenko said.

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