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Tillerson vows no warming with Russian Federation until it leaves Ukraine

08 December 2017

"The issue that stands in the way is Ukraine", Tillerson said. He has said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin's personal denials that Moscow meddled.

Tillerson is due in Vienna on Thursday for talks with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and USA officials say he is expected to meet Lavrov there.

Tillerson insisted the US could never overlook Russia's invasion of Ukraine and "attempted annexation" of the Crimean peninsula.

"We can have differences in other arenas, in Syria, we can have differences in other areas", he said.

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"We will continue to work with Russian Federation to see if we could not agree a peacekeeping force that could enter Ukraine (and) reduce the violence", Tillerson told the news conference. "It stands as the single most hard obstacle to us renormalizing a relationship with Russian Federation, which we badly would like to do".

Speaking a day ahead of planned talks with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Tillerson said he hoped to convince Moscow to allow a blue helmet force with a robust mandate.

Russia has brought forward a proposal for a United Nations force to protect OSCE truce monitors deployed in eastern Ukraine where Russian-backed rebels are fighting Kiev's troops.

The United States and its allies want peacekeepers to have a broad mission to protect about 600 OSCE monitors now on the ground and investigate cease-fire violations throughout eastern Ukraine.

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Economic sanctions were placed on Russian Federation by then-US President Barack Obama in 2014 following the country's military action in Crimea and Ukraine.

He and Lavrov met on the sidelines of the conference, though both ignored reporters' questions when the meeting began.

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Tillerson vows no warming with Russian Federation until it leaves Ukraine