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Wednesday, 22 September 2021

US envoy backs fresh ceasefire in east Ukraine

AFP , Tuesday 22 Aug 2017
Kurt Volker
File Photo: US special envoy on Ukraine, Kurt Volker (AFP)

The US special envoy on Ukraine on Tuesday backed a fresh ceasefire there to coincide with the start of the school year, a day after talks with a Kremlin official.

"I know it's very high on the agenda in the Normandy process which is to have a ceasefire for the back-to-school season," said Kurt Volker, referring to the talks involving France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine.

"It seems like a very good idea, we would obviously fully support that and hope the sides could do that," he told the Baltic News Service during a visit to Lithuania.

Volker, a former envoy to NATO who was appointed last month to lead US diplomacy on the Ukraine crisis, described as "constructive" his first meeting Monday with Kremlin aide Vladislav Surkov.

"Where I think we agreed is that the current situation, the status quo, is not good for anybody," he said.

"What we need to do is to take a fresh look at how to increase security in Ukraine for the people that live there."

Volker was due in the Ukrainian capital Kiev on Wednesday to join US Secretary of Defense James Mattis in talks with senior Ukrainian government officials.

The conflict between Russia-backed fighters and Ukrainian troops has killed more than 10,000 people since 2014, when pro-Russian forces occupied parts of eastern Ukraine and Russia annexed Crimea.

The conflict has pushed ties between Moscow and the West to their lowest point since the Cold War.

While the Minsk peace agreement brokered by France and Germany has helped reduce the intensity of fighting, observers say it is still violated on a daily basis.

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