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US to maintain Russia sanctions until it withdraws from Ukraine, Tillerson says

Posted December 7, 2017 7:20 a.m. EST

— The United States will maintain sanctions against Russia until it returns full control of Crimea to Ukraine, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Thursday.

Speaking in front of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a meeting of foreign ministers in Vienna, Tillerson said the US will not tolerate Russian aggression in Crimea.

"We will never accept Russia's occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea," Tillerson told the audience at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe event.

"Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine," Tillerson added.

Tillerson also accused the Russian military of actively fighting in eastern Ukraine, saying they are "arming, leading, training and fighting alongside anti-government forces."

Economic sanctions were placed on Russia by then-US President Barack Obama in 2014 following the country's military action in Crimea and Ukraine.