U.S. sanctions on Russia will remain until Russia reverses the actions that triggered those sanctions, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated at a recent press conference in Kyiv. In the case of eastern Ukraine, that means full implementation of the Minsk agreements.
Secretary Tillerson added the United States is “disappointed by the lack of progress under the Minsk agreements” and introduced Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, Kurt Volker, who will be spearheading U.S. efforts to achieve the objectives set out in the Minsk agreements.
"We do call on Russia to honor its commitments that were made under the Minsk accords and to exercise influence over the separatists in the region—whom they do hold complete control over—and we call on them, again, to immediately call on their proxies to cease the violence that is ongoing in east Ukraine,” said Secretary Tillerson.
The Minsk agreements consist of three separate documents that commit the sides to ensure a stable, reliable, and lasting cease-fire, to withdraw troops and heavy weapons, to create a buffer security zone, to release hostages, and to allow observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE, to oversee the process. The long-term plan for peace also details a political process for re-integrating eastern Ukraine, including empowering local governments by decentralizing some political powers from the center and holding new, OSCE-compliant elections.
Now, despite signing the agreements, Russia is failing to live up to its most basic commitments—quieting the guns—under the Minsk agreements. Russia must take steps to improve security in eastern Ukraine and ensure the safety of OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission, or SMM. SMM’s 700 volunteers are entrusted with recording any violations of the ceasefire, as well as other aspects of the violence in eastern Ukraine. If it wanted to, Russia could take steps to stop this harassment.
Secretary of State Tillerson called on Russia to honor its commitments:
“Again, we call on them to allow the monitors full access to all areas to perform their mission not only along the line of contact but ultimately along the border itself."
Secretary Tillerson called securing eastern Ukraine a “fundamental element” to Ukraine’s sovereignty.