Fears of Russian military intervention in Ukraine intensified on Friday as clashes between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces escalated, according to the United States.
Anthony Blinken, the head of US diplomacy, condemned the implementation of a “scene” of “provocations” designed by the Russians to justify the attack on Ukraine, which led to the separatist authorities ordering the evacuation of civilians two days after the conflict.
His defense spokesman Lloyd Austin said the Russian military was preparing to send “more troops” and “move closer to the border, deploy troops and increase their logistics capabilities.”
A U.S. official on Friday estimated that there were 190,000 troops on the outskirts of Ukraine and along its border, including separatist forces. Until then there were 150,000 talking on the country border.
US President Joe Biden will join a virtual meeting with leaders of several European countries, NATO and the European Union on Friday.
His Russian envoy, Vladimir Putin, accused Kiev of provoking the conflict and noted that “the situation in Donbass is deteriorating.” The Ukrainian military has been fighting pro-Russian forces backed by Moscow for eight years.
“All Kiev has to do is sit at the negotiating table (representatives of the separatists) with the representatives of the Donbass and come to an agreement,” he said, receiving his opponent from Belarus and his ally Alexander Lukashenko.
Throughout the day, the militants accused each other of violating the ceasefire and using heavy weapons.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who sought to mediate between Russia and Ukraine in early February, called for a “halt to military action” until Russian military pressure eases.
Western nations have unanimously promised sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine.
On Friday, Vladimir Putin again ignored a threat: “Sanctions will be introduced no matter what. Whether there is a reason or not, they will find one because their purpose is to slow down Russia’s growth.”
Listen to an article by Luc Laliberté, an American political expert on QUB Radio:
In the afternoon, shelling was still heard in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Stanitza Lukanska, AFP reporters reported. She had already been hit the previous day by shots of her attacking a nursery school.
Denis Bushlin, the leader of Donetsk’s self-proclaimed separatist republic, announced the expulsion of citizens to Russia “first, women, children and the elderly.”
Leonid Passeknik of the “Republic” of neighboring Lugansk did the same before calling “all men capable of arming to defend their homeland.”
Russia, meanwhile, reaffirmed on Friday that it was withdrawing troops from the Ukrainian suburbs.
However, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiï Reznikov told reporters on Friday that “it did not happen.”
According to Washington, Russia is looking for an excuse to attack Ukraine and the resurgence of violence in the Donbass may be one of them, as Moscow sees itself as the protector of the Russian-speaking population of the region, especially since it distributed passports. To the people of Russia.
According to the Ukrainian military and rebels, there were dozens of ceasefire violations on Friday.
The conflict has claimed more than 14,000 lives since 2014.
Observers for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reported a significant increase in shootings, with 189 ceasefire violations in the Donetsk region on Thursday, against Wednesday 24th. In the Lugansk region, 402 violations were reported against 129.
The head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, accused the OSCE of being biased and “mitigating the crime points of the Ukrainian armed forces.”
The peace agreements signed in Minsk in 2015 have led to a significant drop in ceasefires and conflicts, but sporadic violence continues to erupt.
Russia denies any plan of aggression, but demands guarantees for its security, such as the withdrawal of NATO from Eastern Europe, all demands rejected by the West.
Moscow, in addition to supporting pro-armed separatists, has already annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea in 2014.