Tillerson holds tough line on Russian Federation sanctions over Ukraine


But the major powers in the dispute are still far apart, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went so far as to declare that the stand-off over Ukraine was the single most important obstacle to warmer U.S. relations with Moscow.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prepares for the beginning of a meeting of OSCE Foreign Ministers in Vienna, Austria, December 7, 2017.

Speaking at a meeting of foreign ministers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Tillerson went even further in spelling out Russia's involvement in the conflict and the consequences it faced than he had the day before when he met North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies in Brussels.

"Russian Federation is arming, leading, training and fighting alongside anti-government forces", he said. 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.

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

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.

Tillerson said he hoped to agree to deploy United Nations troops to eastern Ukraine, an idea the Russian president floated in September. "The goal is that Russian Federation withdraws from Donbas together with its occupation administration, and the global component enters there, reaches the minimum level of security, takes control of the whole territory and gradually begins to prepare this region for the elections", Klimkin said in his video blog from the OSCE Ministerial Meeting in Vienna, published on the YouTube channel on December 7.