U.S. Accuses Russia Of Stoking Conflict In Ukraine
RFE/RL February 13, 2018
The United States has accused Russia of stoking the conflict in Ukraine by disregarding its commitments under peace accords.
The U.S. State Department said in a statement on February 13 that Russia continues to deny its direct involvement in the violence that erupted in April 2014 and has seen more than 10,300 people killed by fighting between Kyiv's forces and the separatists who control parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Cease-fire deals announced as part of the Minsk accords -- September 2014 and February 2015 pacts aimed to resolve the conflict -- have failed to hold.
"Sadly, Russia continues to disregard its commitments under the Minsk agreements, stoking a hot conflict in Ukraine," the statement said.
Earlier in the day, Ukraine said one of its soldiers had been killed and two wounded in clashes in the country's east.
The Defense Ministry added that Russia-backed separatists violated a frequently breached cease-fire 11 times during the previous 24 hours, firing machine guns, grenade launchers, and mortars.
Meanwhile, the separatists claimed that Ukrainian government forces violated the cease-fire nine times using the same types of weapons.
A new cease-fire agreement was reached in late 2017 and was meant to begin on December 23, but both sides have accused each other of repeated violations since then.
Since Russia's annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of fighting in eastern Ukraine, the United States and the European Union have imposed asset freezes, travel bans, and related financial restrictions on a number of Russian people and companies, as well as separatist leaders in the region.
On January 26, the U.S. government hit 21 people and nine companies linked to the conflict with new economic sanctions in the latest effort by Washington to put pressure on groups most actively involved in the nearly 4-year-old conflict.
"Working closely with France and Germany, the United States continues to urge the Russian government to cease its aggression in Ukraine," the U.S. State Department statement said.
"The United States takes this opportunity to reiterate that our sanctions will remain in place until Russia fully implements its commitments under the Minsk agreements. Our separate Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns the peninsula to Ukraine," it added.