SHAFAQNA – Despite “frank discussions” between the US and Russia, no “major breakthrough” has been made in the Ukraine conflict. The US had hoped to push President Putin to fully implement the Minsk peace deal.
Speaking at a news conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Sochi meeting had helped the US and Russia to “better understand each other.”
He added that it was “absolutely necessary” to avoid steps that could further harm relations between the two countries.
Lavrov said, however, that there are still “many contradictions and divergences about the origin of the conflict.”
Roll back sanctions
Following his first visit to Russia since the Ukraine conflict began last spring, Kerry said he was grateful for the time given by Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin, but warned against any “destructive” resort to force in Ukraine.
The US secretary of state also said that “if and when” the terms of the fragile Minsk agreement were fully implemented, then US and EU sanctions, which were first imposed upon a number of Russian individuals and businesses in April last year, could eventually be rolled back.
The Western allies implemented the sanctions in response to Russia’s alleged support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine with arms and manpower – claims which Moscow has repeatedly denied.
Both Kerry and Lavrov agreed, however, that the Minsk peace deal, which was hammered out in February, continues to be violated by both Ukrainian government forces and pro-separatist rebels.
Also on the agenda Tuesday were the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Libya.
During the talks, Lavrov demanded a professional UN-supported investigation into reports of chemical weapons in Syria.