Russia Violating Ukraine Ceasefire, Accuses U.S.

Separatists argue that the town of Debaltseve was not covered by the ceasefire agreement

United States has accused Russia and pro-Russia rebels of violating the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. Intense fighting in the strategic town of Debaltseve continues amid reports that some Ukrainian paramilitary soldiers were pulling out of the town. U.S. ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said it was “ironic” that Russia drafted the resolution at the same time it was supporting “an all-out assault” in Ukraine despite the ceasefire.

‘The costs to Russia will rise’

United Nations Security Council has unanimously approved the Russia-drafted resolution. After speaking to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden strongly condemned the ceasefire violation by Russian-backed separatists. According to BBC News, separatists have taken control of the Debaltseve town. They have asked Ukrainian troops to surrender and drop their weapons, a claim Ukraine denies.

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White House said in a statement that if Russia continued to violate the Minsk agreement, “the costs to Russia will rise.” Earlier, Ukraine urged the West to act tough on Russia as rebels stormed Debaltseve to attack thousands of Ukrainian troops. A Ukrainian military spokesman said Wednesday that separatists launched five artillery strikes on Debaltseve overnight. They have seized parts of the strategic town in fierce street fighting.

Putin asks Ukrainian troops to surrender

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied backing separatists. Putin said that the conflict could not be resolved by military means, and asked Ukrainian troops to surrender. Kiev and pro-Russia separatists agreed to a peace plan after intense negotiations in Minsk involving leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany.

Separatists argue that Debaltseve was not covered by the ceasefire agreement signed last week. They insist that the control over Debaltseve was an “internal matter.” Rebels had controlled the town between April and July last year. Debaltseve sits in the middle of the rail line that connects Donetsk and Luhansk, two separatist strongholds.

Separately, Vladimir Putin said in an interview that United States was already supplying lethal weapons to Ukraine.