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Russia obstructing Donbas conflict settlement – U.S. envoy to OSCE

Progress in resolving the conflict in Donbas depends primarily on the political will of the Kremlin that has been obstructing peace talks so far, according to U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE James Gilmore.

He stated this at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on October 8, according to an Ukrinform correspondent.

"The crisis, today, underscores the need for the humanitarian and security measures that have been discussed again and again in the Minsk agreements, at last year's Normandy Summit, and every month at the Trilateral Contact Group. Instead, we see lip-service and then obstructionism from Russia and its proxies, which means limited progress on goals like de-mining for example. The residents of eastern Ukraine are again paying the price," Gilmore said.

The U.S. diplomat also emphasized the importance of opening additional entry-exit crossing points, disengagement areas, and ensuring mutual exchanges of detainees.

He said that in the last couple of months there has been a significant reduction in ceasefire violations in eastern Ukraine, but "even one violation is one too many."

Gilmore said that Russia and its proxies in Donbas continue to impede the freedom of movement of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission and its ability to fulfill its mandate.

"Concrete progress is going to depend on political will, particularly Russia's, and whether the Kremlin will embrace a peaceful resolution to the conflict, rather than continue its obstruction, is the key issue, with respect to political will, that is the issue. When the attitude changes in Moscow they will make substantial progress. But in the meanwhile, civilians have too long borne the brunt of Russia's aggression in eastern Ukraine," he said.

He added that the United States and the majority of the OSCE participating states "are frustrated by Russia's efforts to stall progress within the Trilateral Contact Group."

"One such example is Russia's demand that Ukraine amend its July 15 Rada resolution on local elections. But the problem is that the Kremlin demands Kyiv revise its domestic legislation to meet Moscow's demands, and in the meanwhile they block efforts to improve humanitarian conditions in eastern Ukraine," Gilmore said.

He added that Russia should engage constructively in discussions at the Trilateral Contact Group, to alleviate the hardships of the civilian populations affected by this multi-year conflict.

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