“I’d say it’s at least 80 percent. There’s a chance that there won’t be, but the most likely scenario is that this continues,” he added grimly, noting that more than 10,000 people in eastern Ukraine have been killed since the fighting broke out,” Volker said.
According to him, Ukraine had been embroiled in military conflict since 2014, when Russia forcibly annexed the Crimean Peninsula, the first such takeover since World War II in Europe, and fomented a separatist war in eastern Ukraine—leading to international condemnation and, ultimately, sanctions that Putin is desperate to lift.
Kurt Volker spoke to the Politico when he had just returned the previous week from a face-to-face meeting in Belgrade with a top Putin adviser, Vladislav Surkov. The session was their third, but Volker was blunt about what it accomplished: nothing. The talks, he said, were a “step back,” with Surkov reverting to Russia’s initial proposal in September to deploy United Nations peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine along the line currently separating Ukrainian government forces and the Russia-backed separatists. Surkov told reporters after the meeting that Volker had presented 29 separate paragraphs to the Russians and that Surkov had agreed with just three of them.
Either way, the meeting’s failure speaks not only to the difficulty of making peace in Ukraine but also to the troubled state of the current U.S.-Russian relationship, the Politico states.