Tillerson: US, Russia could normalize ties but for Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday Dec. 6 2017

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He has said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin's personal denials that Moscow meddled.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held up the Ukraine crisis Thursday as the sole issue keeping the United States and Russian Federation from forging a closer relationship, arguing that all other disputes are secondary. "In France, journalists from the Sputnik news agency are denied access to news conferences, the USA authorities impose major restrictions on the activity of RT television, labeling it as a foreign agent", he went on to say.

"We urge concentrating on (the) elaboration and implementation of specific additional confidence building measures in order to secure the cyber security and not to waste breath with unfounded accusations without any fact", Sergei Lavrov told a meeting of foreign ministers from OSCE countries.

"We should be clear about the source of this violence", Tillerson said, referring to increasing ceasefire violations recorded by OSCE monitors in eastern Ukraine.

While both sides have called for a United Nations peacekeeping force in eastern Ukraine, they disagree on the terms of its deployment, and there was little sign of concrete progress at Thursday's meeting.

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Tillerson also accused the Russian military of actively fighting in eastern Ukraine, saying they are "arming, leading, training and fighting alongside anti-government forces".

"We can have differences in other arenas, in Syria, we can have differences in other areas", Tillerson said.

"And we've made this clear to Russian Federation from the very beginning, that we must address Ukraine", he said.

He and Lavrov met on the sidelines of the conference, though both ignored reporters' questions when the meeting began. We get progress, that's what we get. Trump calls on Saudis to "immediately" lift Yemen blockade Trump has yet to name ambassadors to key nations in Mideast Mattis, Tillerson warned Trump of security concerns in Israel embassy move MORE said Thursday that Russia's involvement in Ukraine remained the major barrier to warmer relations between Washington and Moscow.

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