White House 'concerned' about surge in east Ukraine fighting
The United States is concerned over a recent flare-up in fighting in eastern Ukraine, a senior White House official said Thursday.
"We are particularly concerned about the uptick in fighting that we have seen over the last 24 to 48 hours in Ukraine," Charles Kupchan, the National Security Council's senior director for European affairs, told reporters.
Although a ceasefire has been in place since February 15, a surge in fighting since Wednesday has left at least 26 dead, mostly separatists, according to Ukrainian authorities and the rebels.
Asked about the possibility of a response by the Group of Seven at its upcoming summit in Germany, White House deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes said Washington's priority was to keep in place sanctions against Russia, which the United States accuses of backing the rebel forces.
"I think most urgently the focus is on maintaining the unity around sanctions that have had very significant consequences on the Russian economy," Rhodes said.
"The message has to be that this pressure is not going to go away unless we see" a diplomatic solution, he said.
© 2015 AFP