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U.S. diplomat in Moscow: 'We want to push harder' for Ukraine truce

By Ed Adamczyk

MOSCOW, May 18 (UPI) -- With the arrival of senior U.S. State Department official Victoria Nuland in Moscow on Monday, the United States has signaled its interest in helping solve the crisis in Ukraine.

Nuland, the assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, arrived for negotiations with senior Russian officials after meeting with counterparts in Ukraine over the weekend. Her visit comes after Secretary of State John Kerry's May 12 discussion of implementation of the Minsk, Belarus, truce agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia.

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She noted Saturday that tensions have lessened in eastern Ukraine, where the military is battling pro-Russian separatists.

"There is less firing, but none of us should be satisfied with the results. So that's why we want to push harder on all of these things and see what we can achieve in the coming days and weeks. In Sochi, President Putin told Secretary Kerry that he is fully committed to Minsk implementation. It's now important that all sides walk the walk, not just talk the talk," she said.

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Although the United States has repeatedly accused Russia of military involvement in Ukraine, the attempted peace process with Russia has largely been undertaken by European Union nations; particularly France and Germany. E.U. and U.S. economic sanctions have not yet injured Russia to the point where Putin, who sees Ukraine of strategic importance to Russia, is willing to back off on aiding the separatists.

Analysts have suggested Putin awaits a time in which EU economic problems will prompt a return to business as usual.

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