Tillerson appoints ex-NATO ambassador to lead Ukraine talks

Tillerson appoints ex-NATO ambassador to lead Ukraine talks
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Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonLawmakers to roll out legislation reorganizing State cyber office New State Department cyber bureau stirs opposition Blinken tells State Department staff 'I have your back' MORE has appointed former NATO Ambassador Kurt VolkerKurt VolkerGOP senators request details on Hunter Biden's travel for probe Yovanovitch retires from State Department: reports Live coverage: Senators enter second day of questions in impeachment trial MORE the special representative for Ukraine negotiations, the State Department said Friday.

In that role, Volker will lead U.S. efforts to implement the 2015 Minsk agreement aimed at halting the fighting in Ukraine's eastern Donbass region between government forces and armed separatists.

Volker will accompany Tillerson on his upcoming trip to Ukraine on Sunday, the State Department said.


"Kurt's wealth of experience makes him uniquely qualified to move this conflict in the direction of peace," Tillerson said in a statement. "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."

Ukraine's government has accused Russia of supporting pro-Moscow separatists in Donbass after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. The Kremlin has denied backing the separatists.

The 2015 Minsk agreement calls for a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, as well as the withdrawal from the front lines of all heavy weaponry by both sides.

Volker served for years in the State Department and served on former President George W. Bush's National Security Council as the director for NATO and West Europe.

He also served as the U.S. permanent representative to NATO in the final months of the Bush administration and in the early months of the Obama administration.