Kurt Walker, a Special Representative of the U.S. Department of State for Ukraine negotiations, says he believes Russia will retain its current position toward Ukraine until the presidential and parliamentary elections are held in Ukraine in 2019.
The American diplomat said that the U.S. failed to impact the decision-making from Vladimir Putin or others in Russia "about whether to continue the war" in Donbas.
"They are determined to continue to do so. And my estimation is that the chances of their changing their position now are lower than they were even a year ago. I think that Russia has essentially decided to wait out the Ukrainian election, see what happens, maybe there'll be new opportunities that arise that give a more favorable position for Russia, so I think they just intend to play it out," Volker said, speaking at the Atlantic Council Conference in Washington.
Calling the developments "unfortunate," Volker explained that this is what is directly causing "humanitarian hardships" in eastern Ukraine.
He also finds it said that while Russia claims it is protecting Russian speakers in Donbas, it is precisely Moscow's actions that are "hurting Russian speaking people in Ukraine."
He also ruled out Ukraine's intentions to return the occupied territories by force.
"I can say with great confidence, having met with everyone, Ukrainians have no illusions about retaking the territory that they've lost by force. That would be a catastrophe for Ukraine to attempt that," Volker said.
At the same time, he opines it is important that Ukraine "build the capacities and strength so that it can continue to emerge successfully as a healthy, secure European democracy."