Friday, July 7, 2017

U.S. Names Former Ambassador to NATO as Ukraine Crisis Envoy

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appointed Kurt Volker, a former U.S. Ambassador to The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as Special Representative to Ukraine, the State Department said Friday.

In a statement, the Department said Volker will take Responsibility for Advancing U.S. Efforts to achieve the objectives set out in the Minsk Agreements, and accompany the Secretary of State on a trip to Kiev on Sunday. “Kurt’s wealth of experience makes him uniquely qualified to move this conflict in the direction of peace,” Tillerson said. “The United States remains fully committed to the objectives of the Minsk agreements, and I have complete confidence in Kurt to continue our efforts to achieve peace in Ukraine.”

One of my grandmothers was born in Kiev in 1897.

Russia Annexed Crimea in 2014 and has been accused of supporting Pro-Russian Separatists in Eastern Ukraine. More than 10,000 people have been killed in the Conflict in Eastern Ukraine since April 2014, according to the United Nations, though Moscow Denies Direct Involvement.

Germany, France, Ukraine, and Russia Brokered a Package of Measures in Minsk in 2015 intended to End the Conflict, but this Failed to Stop the Fighting.

Volker is a Career Diplomat who Served as the U.S. Envoy to NATO under both the Bush and Obama Administrations.
He is currently an Expert in U.S. Foreign and National Security Policy at the McCain Institute, an American Think Tank Affiliated with Senator John McCain and Arizona State University.

Tillreson will make his first Official Visit to Kiev following the G20 Summit in Hamburg. The U.S. Secretary of State will meet with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Sunday and “reaffirm America’s commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the State Department said.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and the North Atlantic Council are holding a Meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Kiev on July 9th-10th.

The Appointment comes as the Administration’s Views toward Russia remain in flux. Speaking yesterday in Warsaw, Trump sent Mixed Signals on his Russia Policy. He reaffirmed America’s Commitment to NATO’s Mutual Defense Provisions and the importance of Eastern Europe to his Administration. And Trump discussed “re-energizing” Implementation of the Minsk Agreements in a Meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Thursday in Hamburg.

In June the U.S. Senate voted 98-2 for New Sanctions on Iran and Russia, including fresh Powers for Congress to Block Trump from Rolling Back any Penalties against Vladimir Putin’s Government, but the Legislation has been Blocked in the House of Representatives.

European Union (EU) Leaders Extended Sanctions against Russia through January 2018 after Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron Updated the European Council on the Lack of Progress in Implementing the Minsk Agreements. The EU initially Imposed Sanctions against Russia in 2014 after its Annexation of Crimea.

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