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Kremlin warns Ukraine new leader against calls for more sanctions

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This picture taken and released by Ukrainian Prime Minister press-service on May 20, 2019 shows Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky applauding during his inauguration ceremony at the parliament in Kiev. – Comedian Volodymyr Zelensky stepped into his new role as Ukrainian president with his inauguration on May 20, launching a new era for the country wracked by war and economic difficulties. A month after scoring a landslide election victory against incumbent Petro Poroshenko, the 41-year-old became Ukraine’s youngest post-Soviet president. (Photo by Vladyslav MUSIENKO / Ukrainian Prime Minister Press-service / AFP) / 

The Kremlin on Tuesday warned Ukraine’s new President Volodymyr Zelensky against asking Washington for more sanctions against Russia, suggesting it would not help his efforts to end the war in the east.

Zelensky was sworn in as Ukraine’s president on Monday and said his top priority was ending the conflict with Russia-backed insurgents in the east, which has claimed some 13,000 lives since 2014.

In a meeting with US officials on Monday, Zelensky called on Washington to support Ukraine and introduce more sanctions against Moscow.

“This is the rhetoric that will not help Ukraine to sort out the problem of the southeast,” said Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, referring to the separatist conflict in the ex-Soviet country’s industrial east.

Zelensky had told a US delegation headed by US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and US Senator Ron Johnson that Washington should keep “increasing sanctions” against Moscow.

“We will not be able to overcome Russian aggression in Donbass and Crimea alone,” Zelensky was quoted as saying by his office in reference to the eastern region and Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014.

Peskov said Ukraine should stick to the Western-brokered peace treaty if it wanted to settle the conflict.

“The US cannot fulfil a list (of requirements) of the Minsk agreements. Russia cannot fulfil them either,” he said.

“It is Kiev which can and must fulfil them.”

The Minsk accords inked in the Belarusian capital Minsk in 2015 are largely moribund and have failed to settle the conflict despite numerous ceasefire agreements.

The Kremlin has refused to congratulate Zelensky on his landslide election victory last month or the inauguration.

After Zelensky won the election, Putin ordered an easing of procedures for millions of Ukrainians to gain Russian passports, a move that caused uproar in Kiev.


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