Resolving of Donbas conflict is entirely in the hands of Russia's president Vladimir Putin, the outgoing US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt said in his recent interview for The Day newspaper.
He added that the US are going to work hard with their partners in Germany and France to try to see the implementation of the Minsk agreements before the end of President Obama's administration, but "if President Putin was half as committed as President Poroshenko and Ukraine are to peace in Donbas, the Minsk agreements would have been implemented a long time ago".
"Implementation of Minsk-2 means all the Russian troops go out; it means Ukraine's control over the international border is restored; it means all the hostages are released; it means all of the tanks, and BMPs, and GRAD missiles, and mortars, all of these heavy weapons go back. The first point of the Minsk agreement was a comprehensive ceasefire, and the Kremlin has not even fulfilled this first condition," Pyatt said.
The ambassador also reiterated that the US intends to stand firm on its position of maintaining Russia sanctions. "We have made a policy of what we call ‘maintenance sanctions,' intended to close loopholes and to keep a clear message to the Kremlin regarding the cost of its territorial aggression. That policy continues, I don't have any announcements right now in terms of additional sanctions, but it's very much on the table. And it would be, as I said in Vienna, grossly premature to suggest that now is the time to weaken sanctions," he said.
Pyatt also touched on the issue of providing lethal weapons to Ukraine. "On the question of lethal assistance, my government's conclusion has been that anything that we did in terms of lethal assistance would be overmatched by the Kremlin and raises the risk of opening a gap with our European allies. And I think that's most important."
The outgoing ambassador also named what mistakes, in his opinion, the Kremlin made about Ukraine. "The Kremlin made a number of mistakes about this conflict. Putin underestimated the Ukrainian people, but another mistake that the Kremlin made was the hope or the expectation that they could divide NATO, that they could divide the United States and our European allies."