US: Russia building up forces along its border with Ukraine (1)
The United States State Department announced on Wednesday that combined Russian-separatist forces continue to violate the terms of the “Minsk II” agreement and the Russian military has deployed additional air defense systems into eastern Ukraine.
“Combined Russian-separatist forces maintain a sizable number of artillery pieces and multiple rocket launchers within areas prohibited under the Minsk accords,” Marie Harf, the Acting Spokesperson of the State Department said in a statement.
According to American information, the Russian military has deployed additional air defense systems into eastern Ukraine and moved several of these nearer the front lines. This is the highest amount of Russian air defense equipment in eastern Ukraine since August.
Russian and separatist forces also have a large concentration of command and control equipment in eastern Ukraine. Combined Russian-separatist forces have been conducting increasingly complex training in eastern Ukraine. The training has also incorporated Russian UAVs, an unmistakable sign of Russia’s presence.
“Russia is also building up its forces along its border with Ukraine. After maintaining a relatively steady presence along the border, Russia is sending additional units there. These forces will give Russia its largest presence on the border since October 2014,” Harf said.
Martin Hurt, a security expert who is the deputy director of the International Center for Defense and Security in Tallinn, told ERR News in February that the agreements reached in Belarus leave Russia with all roads open - an exit for reconsolidation, or avenues for further meddling.
More than 6,000 people have been killed and over 10,000 wounded since the start of Ukraine war.