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U.S. embassy in Kiev critical of Moscow order on Ukrainian documentation

22 February 2017

Under the plan reported by the NYT, Ukrainian voters would decide in a referendum whether Crimea, the territory Russian Federation seized in 2014, would be leased to Russian Federation for a 50-year or 100-year term.

The statements came as demonstrators in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev marked the third anniversary of events that led to the ouster of the nation's Russia-friendly president in 2014 with protests and wreath-laying.

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko said this in an interview with Bild German newspaper.

Saturday's executive order stated Russian Federation would recognize documents such as vehicle registration plates, birth certificates and ID cards issued in certain parts of the disputed regions of eastern Ukraine. Viktor Pinchuk, a Ukrainian billionaire who lives in London and has Russian business interests, in an article published by The Wall Street Journal in December, suggested Ukraine must stop pressing the issue on Crimea for decades. The blockade made it impossible for residents of the rebellious east to travel to the Ukrainian government-held side to receive or extend their passports and other documents, he said. "In a small positive way, the contact group has once again agreed to start a ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons to those places where they should be on February 20", explained Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to reporters. "These aren't documents from an officially recognised state". "For humanitarian reasons, it was necessary to do it and recognize these documents".

Paris also called on Russian Federation and the separatists it supports to fulfil the Minsk agreement, which France and Germany helped broker two years ago.

The recognition, in an order signed by President Vladimir Putin that was announced Saturday, "is alarming and contradicts the agreed-upon goals of the Minsk Agreement", the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine said Sunday on Twitter, referring to a two-year-old agreement on ending the fighting in eastern Ukraine.

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This prompted Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine to call for renewed efforts to implement the much-violated Minsk deal. The agreement has helped reduce the fighting, but clashes have continued and attempts at a political settlement have stalled.

"The Vice President underscored USA support for Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and self-determination and underlined that the United States does not recognize Russia's occupation and attempted annexation of the Crimean peninsula", according to a White House statement.

The occurrence of the meeting, first reported Sunday by the New York Times, suggests that some in the region aligned with Russian Federation have been seeking to use Trump business associates as an informal conduit to a new president who has signaled a desire to forge warmer relations with Russian Federation.

The meeting with Andrii Artemenko, the Ukrainian politician, involved Michael Cohen, a Trump Organisation lawyer since 2007, and Felix Sater, a Russian immigrant to the U.S. who has worked on real estate projects with Trump's company.

Last week, another Trump ally with ties to Russia, Mike Flynn, resigned as national security adviser after it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about having discussed US sanctions against Moscow with the Russian ambassador.

U.S. embassy in Kiev critical of Moscow order on Ukrainian documentation