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U.S., Russian Envoy, OSCE Dismiss Ukraine Separatists' 'Little Russia' Declaration

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, current chairman of OSCE
Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, current chairman of OSCE

The U.S. State Department, Russia's envoy to Ukrainian peace talks, and the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe all voiced concern about the declaration of a "Little Russia" in Ukraine by Russia-backed separatists on July 18.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called the announcement by Donetsk separatists that they would created a new state called Malorossia an "area of concern to us." But "beyond that, I don't want to dignify it with a response," she said.

"I am concerned about the provocative rhetoric we heard from Donetsk," said Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, the OSCE's current chair.

Kurz warned all sides against "confrontational statements or actions jeopardizing" the Minsk peace agreement and "challenging the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine."

The Minsk agreement is a shaky truce deal which is currently being monitored by OSCE observers and which has never been fully implemented. More than 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine since 2014.

Boris Gryzlov, Moscow's chief negotiator on Ukraine, also said "this initiative doesn't fit into the Minsk process. I take it merely as an invitation for discussion. This statement has no legal consequences."

Russia's ambassador to the OSCE also dismissed Donetsk separatist leader Aleksandr Zakhachenko's proclamation of a new state, saying his remarks were "incompatible with the parties' commitments" unfer he Minsk accords.

The initiaitve "can hardly been seen as real policy related to real political affairs," Russian OSCE enoy Aleksandr Lukashevich said.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, TASS, and Interfax

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