Tillerson: Russia Must 'Take The First Steps' To Peace In Ukraine

State secretary calls on Moscow to de-escalate Russia-backed conflict in east Ukraine, warning sanctions will remain.

"Happy to welcome Secretary of state Rex Tillerson on his first official visit to Ukraine", - wrote Poroshenko in his microblog on Twitter on Sunday.

Volker, a career diplomat and former ambassador to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, is widely seen as a Russian Federation hawk and has called for the U.S.to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine. "The United States remains fully committed to the objectives of the Minsk agreements, and I have complete confidence in Kurt to continue our efforts to achieve peace in Ukraine".

Their was expected to address tensions between Moscow and Washington over Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and continued backing of armed militants in eastern Ukraine.

Poroshenko's administration and the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv confirmed Poroshenko and Tillerson will deliver statements following their meeting.

Poroshenko was especially complimentary of Tillerson's decision last week to appoint a special envoy for Ukraine negotiations, former US ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker, who is widely considered to be a hawk on Russian Federation.

"We came to agreement with the secretary-general that Ukraine and the whole world today need strong and decisive actions by the United Nations like never before", Poroshenko said.

Volker is a career diplomat who served as the USA envoy to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation under both the Bush and Obama administrations.

"We are disappointed by the lack of progress under the Minsk process and that's why we are appointing a special representative", Tillerson said.

Speaking to a group of reform advocates at the U.S. ambassador's residence, Tillerson praised Ukraine's progress in combating corruption but made clear that more must be accomplished.

"Most of all we want peace in Ukraine".

"The project has a very important goal - to remind the leaders of the free world that back in 1994 Ukraine received security guarantees according to the Budapest memorandum after it gave up the world's third largest nuclear arsenal", Gennadiy Kurochka, co-founder of Ukraine Crisis Media Center, said.

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