Russia training separatists inside Ukraine: US

14th April 2015, Comments 0 comments

Russian forces still are operating inside Ukraine and have set up training camps for pro-Moscow separatists, despite a ceasefire agreement backed by the Kremlin, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

"There is no question that the Russians continue to operate inside of Ukrainian territory," spokesman Colonel Steven Warren said.

The United States believed the Russians "have established training centers in Ukraine to train separatist fighters in tasks such as gunnery and artillery firing drills," Warren said.

"We also know that they continue to maintain advanced surface-to-air missile systems near the front line" in the east of the country, which violated a ceasefire accord, he added.

There are also Russian "command and control elements" helping to coordinate military operations for the separatists, according to Warren.

The two-month-old ceasefire agreed in the Belarussian capital Minsk has looked increasingly fragile in recent days, with six government soldiers killed and a journalist injured by a mine in the past 24 hours in separatist-held eastern Ukraine.

Russia has denied widespread reports and allegations of a military role in eastern Ukraine.

The United States has condemned Russia over its involvement in Ukraine but has stopped short of providing weapons to Ukraine's government, instead delivering non-lethal items such as medical supplies, radios and body armor.

Top diplomats from Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France held talks in Berlin overnight to assess the status of the truce deal designed to end a year of fighting that has claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people.

© 2015 AFP

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