U.S. to maintain Russian Federation sanctions until it withdraws from Ukraine, Tillerson says

U.S. to maintain Russia sanctions until it withdraws from Ukraine Tillerson says

Keith Lane Getty Images Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday there could be no normal relations with Russian Federation until Moscow ended its support for separatists in Ukraine and returned Crimea, in comments likely to reassure Western allies.

At a press conference held within the framework of the meeting of the NATO Foreign Ministers, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson highlighted Georgia's contribution to NATO's peace operations reaffirming that the U.S. strongly supports Georgia's aspirations to become a NATO member.

"We can have differences in other arenas, in Syria, we can have differences in other areas", he said. Russian Federation denies accusations that it fomented the conflict and provided arms and fighters.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is planning a trip to Africa in the first three months of next year, a senior aide said on Wednesday, amid speculation how long Tillerson might stay in the job. Trump calls on Saudis to "immediately" lift Yemen blockade Trump has yet to name ambassadors to key nations in Mideast Mattis, Tillerson warned Trump of security concerns in Israel embassy move MORE said Thursday that Russia's involvement in Ukraine remained the major barrier to warmer relations between Washington and Moscow.

But Western powers, led by the United States, want a force with a robust mandate that would allow it to protect the 600 OSCE monitors there, police ceasefire lines and investigate ceasefire breaches across eastern Ukraine.

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"We call on Russian Federation and its proxies to end the harassment, intimidation and its attacks on the OSCE special monitoring mission", he demanded.

The OSCE was created during the Cold War to ease dialogue between East and West.

The Vienna-based body monitors conflicts, elections, media freedom and human rights.

The nosedive in relations between Russian Federation and the West over Ukraine and other points of contention has brought OSCE decision-making to a near-standstill, diplomats say.

"Everything is blocked", a Western diplomatic source told AFP on the eve of the two-day meeting in Vienna on Thursday and Friday.

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