The former U.S Ambassador to Ukraine, John Herbst, in his interview with the Voice of America, stated that U.S Secretary of State, John Kerry, is not the best candidate for negotiations with Russia regarding the cessation of the war in Ukraine. According to him, his soft diplomacy will not convince the Kremlin that it’s time to pull back.
“The point is that during negotiations with the Kremlin, U.S Secretary John Kerry doesn't speak harshly in regards to Russian crimes, such as the Crimean annexation or the invasion of Donbas. This allows Putin to think that he can get away with it, but it’s a mistake. That’s why, I would criticize the tone of their conversation but not the meeting place,” the former American diplomat said.
He also added that Washington has mistakenly made the Russian involvement in the war in Syria a greater priority than Russian aggression against Ukraine. “It does not matter whether the Kremlin participates in the war in Syria or not, the Syrian crisis still will be there. But Ukraine is in crisis only because of the Kremlin’s aggressive policy towards it,” Herbst explained.
The former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine expressed concern that the European Union will strengthen political sentiments against the extension of sanctions against Russia. However, John Herbst hopes that the core politicians in Europe, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, will have enough strength and political influence to keep economic pressure for a long time.
Meanwhile, U.S Secretary of State, John Kerry, paid an official visit to Moscow and met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov and Russian President, Vladimir Putin. During the conversation, Kerry informed Putin that the United States’ position on Ukraine and Syria remained unchanged.
“The sooner the Minsk Agreements are implemented, the sooner U.S and European Union sanctions will be lifted,” Kerry noted. At the same time, the New York Times reported that this is not the time to lift sanctions against Russia as they have yet to comply with the Minsk Agreements. Putin’s behaviour demonstrates his belief that Russia can start and end the war in eastern Ukraine whenever they wish.
Meanwhile, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude-Juncker, announced that EU sanctions against Russia will be extended for an additional six months. According to him, the Chairman of the European Parliament is in full agreement with this action.
Sanctions against Russia were imposed by the USA, the European Union and other countries (Australia, Japan, Canada, and Norway) in several stages, beginning in 2014. After the annexation of Crimea, the USA and the European Union imposed personal sanctions against politicians and other citizens of Russia and Ukraine, who were responsible for undermining the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
More serious economic sanctions were imposed in the summer of 2014 (though a series of economic sanctions by the USA were imposed in the spring of 2014), after Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine and in Donbas. The sanctions can only be lifted upon the complete implementation of the Minsk Agreements.