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Kremlin sees role for US in helping resolve conflict with Ukraine

Protests continue in Kiev, everyday life in the Maidan, about a million people came to the popular assembly, independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, on December 29, 2013. (Photo by maksymenko oleksandr/NurPhoto)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The Kremlin says the United States could play a role in helping resolve the Russia-Ukraine conflict given Washington’s influence in Kyiv.

“The U.S. can undeniably use the influence it has over Kyiv to make Ukraine fulfill its Minsk agreements obligations as soon as possible,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on October 8, noting that Moscow wouldn’t back Washington joining the Normandy Format talks to settle the conflict.

Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France currently comprise the so-called Normandy Four, though they have not met for peace talks since October 2016.

Russia seized Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and backed a separatist movement in Ukraine’s easternmost regions of Luhansk and Donetsk after Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Kremlin president, was overthrown and Western-leaning Petro Poroshenko elected the same year.

A deal announced by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy last week that would allow local elections in separatist-held parts of eastern Ukraine under certain security conditions has potentially opened a path for the Normandy Four to hold talks as they look to find a solution to end the fighting, which has killed more than 13,000 since April 2014.

Separately in Minsk, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said that the conflict in eastern Ukraine could not be resolved without U.S. involvement.

A diplomatic breakthrough last week potentially opened the way for an international summit between France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine aimed at finding a way to end the fighting.

“It won’t be possible to resolve the conflict without the participation of the United States,” Lukashenka said.

“The Ukrainian conflict is not just a challenge to us, it needs to be addressed. If we put our minds to it, then we are capable of anything. If not, we will gather and talk but it won’t be enough,” he added.

Belarus is a close ally of Russia.