04:32 GMT +319 December 2018
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    John F. Tefft, the United States Ambassador to the Russian Federation.

    Contacts Between Surkov, US Envoy to Help Solve Ukraine Crisis - US Ambassador

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    The US ambassador to Russia expressed hope that contacts between Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov and US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker will help solve the Ukrainian crisis.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Washington hopes that the cooperation channel between Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov and US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker will contribute to work in the "Normandy format" on settling the conflict in eastern Ukraine, US Ambassador to Russia John Tefft said Monday.

    On Wednesday, Surkov and Volker met behind closed doors in Belarus' capital of Minsk to discuss the reconciliation process of the Ukrainian crisis.

    "I have great hope that that channel can help… the Normandy group… You know, my understanding is that we are trying very hard to find a way to move forward on the Minsk agreements," Tefft told the Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) radio station, commenting on the meeting between Surkov and Volker.

    In April 2014, Ukraine began a military operation against the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk after they refused to recognize the February 2014 change of government in Kiev. 

    In February 2015, the warring parties to the conflict signed the Minsk peace accords, brokered by the Normandy Four (Germany, France, Russian and Ukraine), in order to stop the fighting in the crisis-torn region. 

    In late July, Volker said that the United States was considering the delivery of defensive weapons to Ukraine, saying that this would allow Ukraine to defend itself. Russia has repeatedly stated that the weapons deliveries to Ukraine would not contribute to the settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, nor to the implementation of the Minsk agreements, and might be perceived by Kiev as encouragement to take further military action.

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    Normandy Group, Kurt Volker, John Tefft, Ukraine, United States, Russia
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