Tillerson: Ukraine - biggest obstacle to normal Russian Federation ties

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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. Speaking after a dinner where he discussed Russia with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation foreign ministers Tuesday, Tillerson took a tougher stance than U.S. President Donald Trump, who has sought better relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"The issue that stands in the way is Ukraine", Tillerson said, according to The Associated Press.

"We can have difference in other arenas ... but when one country invades another that is a difference that is hard to look past or to reconcile", he warned.

"We've made this clear to Russian Federation from the very beginning, that we must address Ukraine".

The OSCE has around 600 unarmed monitors in Ukraine and the USA and European leaders are considering adding United Nations peacekeepers to the county to bolster them.

"Lavrov [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov], for example, spoke about the role of the OSCE that a possible peacekeeping mission in Donbas is actually a desire to create an occupation administration".

Tillerson also accused the Russian military of actively fighting in eastern Ukraine, saying they are "arming, leading, training and fighting alongside anti-government forces". "We call on Russian Federation and its proxies to end its harassment, intimidation and its attacks on the OSCE special monitoring mission".

He said the Kremlin's annexation of Crimea in 2014 that sparked the Ukraine crisis has been the reason why the relationship between the two countries have soured.

"Russia's aggression in Ukraine remains the biggest threat to European security", he said on Wednesday.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.