US Will Not Remove Sanctions against Russia after Syria Pullout: Victoria Nuland

US Will Not Remove Sanctions against Russia after Syria Pullout: Victoria Nuland
Wed Mar 16, 2016 16:07:40

Russia’s announcement that it is withdrawing military forces from Syria will not lead to a removal of US sanctions against Moscow, said a senior American diplomat.

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland said the United States will continue to maintain the economic pressure until Russia fully withdraws forces and military equipment from the Ukrainian border.

“We continue to look at the Syria theater and at the Ukraine theater as two separate places,” Nuland said Tuesday during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

“We will judge the Ukraine action based on what is done in Ukraine, and as you know, the sanctions are linked to Ukraine. So from our perspective, what is done in Syria should not impact choices about Ukraine,” she asserted.

“Because they’re withdrawing or have said they're withdrawing troops in Syria, [it] should not mean that we let them off the hook in terms of sanctions vis-a-vis activities in Ukraine,” Nuland added.

Nuland’s remarks follow an announcement by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday that “the main part of our military groups will begin their withdrawal” from Syria.

Putin said that the planned drawdown, which started on Tuesday, could serve as a stimulus for Syria’s political talks.

The decision came hours after peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition resumed in the Swiss city of Geneva.

The Syrian government, backed by the Russian air support, has in recent months consolidated gains in the country’s west while routing militant groups in several battlefields.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Washington, Valeriy Chaly, praised Nuland for drawing a clear line about the US position about the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.

“I appreciate what Victoria Nuland said, because it demonstrated the firm US support for Ukraine,” Chaly told the Foreign Policy magazine on the sidelines of the Senate hearing.

“There’s a chance that some Russian troops might withdraw from Syria and come back to Ukraine,” he added. “We’re afraid that could be the next step from Russia.”

The United States and its European allies accuse Russia of destabilizing Ukraine. Moscow, however, rejects having a hand in the crisis gripping the Eastern European nation.

Washington has maintained that it will not roll back sanctions unless Moscow fully implements all aspects of the Minsk agreements- a package of measures to ease the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, Press TV reported.

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