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Ukraine: Lasting peace not in sight

Ukraine: Lasting peace not in sight
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Ukraine: Lasting peace not in sight.The US insists on the fulfillment of provisions for the withdrawal of all foreign troops and the return of the...

The US insists on the fulfillment of provisions for the withdrawal of all foreign troops and the return of the control over the border between Russia and the Lugansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine to the Ukrainian authorities. Russia, in its turn, insists on the withdrawal of the Ukrainian army Alexey Timofeichev

Tense talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva saw both sides express hopes that the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine would hold, but were characterized by a lack of concrete progress, with Lavrov attempting to persuade the US to apply pressure on Kiev and Kerry threatening further sanctions.

Lavrov and Kerry both expressed optimism that the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine will hold, following talks in Geneva at which the differences between the two sides on how to uphold the truce continued to obstruct clear progress.

The Foreign Ministers met twice during the course of the talks in Switzerland on March 2. In addition to the situation in the Donbass region of Ukraine, they discussed the state of affairs in Syria, the fight against radicals from the Islamic State group (ISIS) in the Middle East and Iran’s nuclear programme.

However, the main focus of the talks was the issue of the observance of the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. According to Lavrov, he asked Kerry to use his influence over Kiev for the full implementation of the terms of the truce by the Ukrainian side, providing for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, during the talks Lavrov also reminded his American counterpart “of the obligations of Kiev regarding constitutional reform and the provision of special status for the Donbass.”

Kerry expressed hope that the full implementation of the truce was a matter of “hours.” At the same time, he threatened Russia with new economic sanctions. The U.S. Secretary of State said that Moscow will face “further consequences” if the conditions of the ceasefire are not met in full.

According to Alexei Arbatov, the head of the Institute of World Economy's Center for International Security, the parties focused on those points that they considered priorities for themselves when discussing the implementation of the Minsk Agreements in Geneva, and a number of sticking points remain. “Both argue about the constitutional reform and local elections under the agreement in Minsk,” Arbatov told RIR.

The US insists on the fulfillment of provisions for the withdrawal of all foreign troops and the return of the control over the border between Russia and the Lugansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine to the Ukrainian authorities. Russia, in its turn, insists on the withdrawal of the Ukrainian army.

According to the expert, Kerry's threats of further sanctions are likely to be of a ritual nature.“There is an opinion in the U.S. that the pressure on Russia should not be decreased, otherwise, Moscow will not apply pressure to the rebels to comply with the Minsk Agreements,” said Arbatov. (in.rbth.com)

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