US not seeking conflict with Russia: Kerry

The US wants to see a diplomatic resolution of the Ukrainian issue, US Secretary of State says during his visit to the Ukrainian capital

The US wants to see a diplomatic resolution of the Ukrainian issue, US Secretary of State says during his visit to the Ukrainian capital

KIEV - The U.S. like Europe is not seeking a conflict with Russia and instead wants to see a diplomatic resolution of the Ukrainian issue, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday.

In remarks made following his meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev, Kerry said the U.S. was "not seeking a conflict with Russia, and no one is – not President Poroshenko, not the United States, not the European community."

He called on Russia to make its choices, not just declared by words, but backed by actions. “And that means engaging in a series of steps that will uphold the Minsk Agreement which was entered into last year and which they signed up to,” he said.

Last December saw relative peace in Ukraine as a tenuous cease-fire was established. Late in that month a prisoner exchange, a step toward implementing one of the points stipulated in the Minsk protocol, was carried out between the two sides.

On Jan. 15, however, the cease-fire collapsed as separatist forces renewed the fighting with an offensive against Donetsk airport. On Jan. 25, a rocket attack against the Ukrainian government city of Mariupol left 30 residents dead.

Kerry also urged Russia to cease its alleged military support for the separatists in Ukraine and bring people to the table in an effort to achieve a political solution.

He said the U.S. could not close its eyes to alleged tanks crossing the border from Russia into Ukraine and alleged Russian fighters in unmarked uniforms leading individual companies of separatists in battle. 

"The people of the United States share unwavering support for the Ukrainian people as they continue to display a very courageous journey towards democracy, towards freedom, independence, and most importantly towards the protection of the appropriate respect due for the sovereignty of your country,” he added.

Kerry and Poroshenko also spoke about Ukraine’s political path ahead and the unity of the Ukrainian government.

Poroshenko also recalled the Volnovakha tragedy in January when a deadly bus attack left over 10 civilians dead, and said it was "absolutely unacceptable in the 21st century in the center of Europe."

Later, Kerry also held a joint press conference with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk during which he said the U.S. would be the warrantor of peace in the region.

Kerry would meet again in Munich with Poroshenko and other European allies "in an effort to underscore our choice is diplomacy, our choice is a peaceful resolution."

According to United Nations, more than 5,300 people have been killed and 12,200 others injured in eastern Ukraine since last April in the ongoing conflict between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatists.

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