USA to maintain Russian Federation sanctions until it withdraws from Ukraine, Tillerson says

USA to maintain Russian Federation sanctions until it withdraws from Ukraine, Tillerson says

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson blasted Russian Federation on Thursday for inciting violence in Ukraine by backing rebels and vowed that the U.S. will keep sanctions in place until Moscow withdraws its forces from the country.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov prepares for the beginning of a meeting of OSCE Foreign Ministers in Vienna, Austria, December 7, 2017.

Economic sanctions were placed on Russian Federation by then-US President Barack Obama in 2014 following the country's military action in Crimea and Ukraine.

In remarks at an OSCE session, Tillerson said that the US would "never accept Russia's occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea", and warned that sanctions related to the matter would remain in place until Moscow returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine.

"This includes recruitment attempts by the US intelligence services", the ministry cited Lavrov as saying at a meeting with Tillerson on the sidelines of a conference in Vienna.

The OSCE has deployed 600 unarmed monitors in Ukraine to investigate and deter ceasefire violations, but they often come under fire from the warring factions.

Tillerson said the United Nations forces should also have peacekeeping powers, including the authority to disarm Russian-backed separatists.

"We have been clear with Russia that we can not return to business as usual in the NATO-Russia relations, as long as Russia continues its illegal occupation of Ukraine", he said at a press conference at NATO headquarters.

Moscow has denied supplying arms and fighters.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in the fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels.

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