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U.S. Ambassador To Ukraine Says 'Russia Has To Change Its Approach'

The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, speaking to RFE/RL in Kyiv
The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, speaking to RFE/RL in Kyiv

KYIV -- The U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, says Russia has to change its approach to the situation in Ukraine's east to make peace in the region possible.

Talking to RFE/RL in Kyiv on May 6, Pyatt said that Russia is supplying pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions with weapons, including "many of their tanks and missiles and antiaircraft systems."

Pyatt called the military conflict between Ukrainian armed forces and what the U.S. State Department considers combined Russian-separatist forces "a manufactured war."

"The people of Donbas," he said of the eastern Ukrainian region that is at the center of the fighting, "have been a target of an aggressive campaign of propaganda and misinformation."

"Russia's information war is very effective," Pyatt said, addressing reports by Russian state-run media that the U.S. and Kyiv are hindering the implementation of peace agreements. "The United States is not providing weapons to Ukraine. Of course, we support the peace process and the cease-fire."

Pyatt stressed that the United States supports Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and the peace plan by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. "We all want peace," Pyatt said. "Russia has to change its approach to make it happen."

He added, however, that there are indications that "Russia and the separatists are preparing to reignite the fighting."

"We know that Russia has maintained a very active training program for the so-called army of Novorossia ," the U.S. ambassador said, adding "And we know that Russia has moved its advanced surface-to-air missile systems very close to the contact line inside the Ukrainian territory."

Pyatt also recalled a recent statement by Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the leader of the separatists in Donetsk region, who told some media outlets that his main goal was to take control over the entire region.

"If that is his [Zakharchenko's] goal, he did not read the agreement or he does not remember the agreement that he signed in February in Minsk," Pyatt said to RFE/RL.

The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France signed a deal known as Minsk II in February which set out measures to stop the fighting in eastern Ukraine. The agreement included a cease-fire in the Donetsk region and sets out plans for Ukraine to grant limited self-governance to rebel-held territory there.

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