By Olga Tokariuk
Kiev, May 6 (EFE).- Russia’s reluctance to cooperate in the Ukraine peace process was a stumbling block to progress in ending the conflict, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday.
Blinken made the remarks during a joint briefing with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyi, where the topic of Russian aggression topped the agenda.
“Russia continues to be the recalcitrant party in not engaging in good faith in trying to resolve both Crimea and the Donbas, and restoring what is rightfully Ukraine’s, which is its border, its territorial integrity and its sovereignty over all of Ukraine,” he said.
Blinken’s visit comes shortly after Russia amassed troops along Ukraine’s eastern border and Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Swathes of Ukraine’s eastern territories, known culturally as the Donbas, have been under pro-Russian separatist control since 2014.
Zelenskyi said Russia had withdrawn between 3,000 to 3,500 troops from Crimea but that the overall number of soldiers and military ordnance elsewhere along the eastern border was roughly 75,000.
“We don’t see withdrawal from other areas. So the threat remains high,” Zelenskyi said.
He added that sniper activity along the line of contact between Ukraine’s army and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine had decreased and thanked his US counterpart for supporting Ukraine in the conflict with Russia.
Blinken said: “In terms of the threat, it remains.
“Russia has pulled back some forces, but significant forces remain at Ukraine’s border. Russia has pulled back some equipment, but significant equipment remains near Ukraine’s border. So Russia has the capacity, at fairly short notice, to take aggressive action if it so chooses.”