Ukraine will not be pushed to hold elections in Donbas while it is occupied - Volker
U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker has expressed confidence that Ukraine will not be pushed by its international partners to hold elections in Russia-occupied territories of Donbas, as long as there remain forces controlled by Russia.
"I don't see a scenario when Ukraine will be pushed to hold elections, when the territories are still occupied," Volker said in an interview with the Kyiv-based 1+1 TV channel.
He emphasized safety first.
"I am in frequent contact with my French and German colleagues, and I know that they do not see that you can have local elections in an environment that is still controlled by Russian forces," Volker said.
The American diplomat said that in order for the "Steinmeier formula" to be implemented, it is necessary first of all for Russia to withdraw its troops.
In addition, illegal armed groups supported by Russia must be disbanded, and stability in the region restored.
Volker said the "Steinmeier's formula" begins with the election, but that first a situation must be created for holding free elections.
Commenting on the possible lifting of sanctions against Russia, Volker said sanctions imposed for the occupation of Crimea will remain in place as long as Russia continues to occupy the peninsula.
At the same time, he noted that if Russia complies with the Minsk agreements, the United States will consider weakening sanctions imposed for non-compliance.