Russia Warns US on Ukraine Arms Supply
by VOA News November 20, 2014
Russia said on Thursday that the United States providing weapons to Ukraine's government to fight separatists in the country's east would have a "serious destabilizing" effect and would be in violation of a number of agreements.
The statement by Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich comes a day after a ranking U.S. official suggested Washington should consider offering lethal assistance to Ukraine, in addition to the non-lethal aid it is already providing.
"If there is a change of policy [of providing only non-lethal assistance to Ukraine], then we can speak of a serious destabilizing factor that can seriously impact the balance of forces in this region," Lukashevich told a news conference in Moscow.
Speaking before lawmakers Wednesday, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken said that arming Ukraine's military could force Russia to rethink its role in the conflict gripping eastern Ukraine. Blinken's statement came during Senate hearings on his confirmation as deputy secretary of state.
Lukashevich, who spoke ahead of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's planned arrival in Kyiv for talks with Ukrainian officials, cautioned against "a major change in policy of the [U.S.] administration in regard to the conflict" in Ukraine.
"That [would be] a direct violation of agreements reached, including [agreements reached] with the participation of the United States," he said.
Biden is due to arrive in Kyiv Thursday evening.
Lawmakers in both houses of Congress have signaled support for lethal aid to Ukraine but the Obama administration has so far stopped short of providing such assistance.
The Kyiv government and a host of Western nations have accused Moscow of fueling the separatist conflict in east Ukraine by directly supporting rebels with manpower and arms, including heavy weapons.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied direct involvement, and says Russian soldiers who might be fighting alongside rebels in east Ukraine are doing so of their own volition and on their own time.
New casualty figures
Meanwhile, the United Nations says in a new human rights monitoring report released Thursday that 4,317 people have been killed and 9,921 wounded in the conflict in east Ukraine since mid-April.
The report says that nearly a 1,000 people have been killed and serious human rights violations committed in the weeks since representatives of Ukraine's government and the rebels signed a cease-fire agreement September 5.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein says civilians have been killed, illegally detained, tortured and have continued to disappear since the agreement was signed.
Nearly a million people have fled the area, with numbers surging in the past two months, the U.N. says.
Some material for this report came from Reuters.
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