WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The envoy tapped to lead U.S. diplomacy on the Ukraine crisis will embark on a trip to eastern Ukraine and European nations on Friday for talks with officials, conflict monitors and "those who have been affected by Russian aggression," the State Department said on Friday.
Kurt Volker, the former U.S. ambassador to the NATO military alliance and the newly named U.S. special representative for Ukraine negotiations, will visit eastern Ukraine, the country's capital Kiev, and then France, Belgium, Austria and the United Kingdom in his weeklong trip.
A 2015 ceasefire between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country is regularly violated, and Washington cites the conflict as a key obstacle to improved relations between Russia and the United States.
Volker "will travel to eastern Ukraine on July 21 to meet with those who have been affected by Russian aggression and to discuss the importance of security and safety for all Ukrainians," the State Department said.
He will also meet with European Union and NATO officials and European security watchdog the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which conducts a monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine.
Volker visited Kiev earlier this month with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, on his first trip as the new U.S. envoy.
Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Jonathan Oatis