The new U.S. special envoy for Ukraine peace negotiations said he was stunned by the number of cease-fire violations in the ex-Soviet nation's war-torn east after making his first visit to the region.
Kurt Volker, who was recently appointed as Washington's point man for talks on ending the war between Kyiv's forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, made the comment in a July 23 interview after spending the day at the front lines of the conflict.
"The level of cease-fire violations on daily basis is astonishing," Volker told RFE/RL by telephone from a train bound for Kyiv, where he was set to hold talks with Ukrainian officials the following day.
Volker's assessment came hours after he told a news conference in Kramatorsk, the headquarters of Kyiv's military operation against the separatists, that Ukraine is locked in a hot war whose origins he blamed on Moscow.
"This is not a frozen conflict, this is a hot war, and it's an immediate crisis that we all need to address as quickly as possible," Volker told reporters in the government-controlled eastern city.
Asked later during the news conference whether the United States understood that Russian "aggression" was to blame for the situation and not a "civil war," Volker answered in the affirmative.
"We've seen what's happened, we understand the way this conflict has begun, we understand the way it is being managed today, and that's why it's important that the United States become more engaged," Volker, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, said.
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