Arming Ukraine escalates crisis – Russian official

from The BRICS Post Unnamed US officials say President Barack Obama is considering providing the Ukraine government with weapons aid as pro-Russian separatists make territorial gains in the east of the country. But Russian officials warn such a move would only increase the violence in eastern Ukraine. Chairman of the Russian Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev told reporters that “if this decision is taken, it might trigger further escalation of the conflict and shows that the US is choosing, after Kiev, the path of military solution”. In recent days, the separatists have killed dozens of Ukrainian soldiers which had been trying to seize the airport in Donetsk, the separatists’ headquarters. On Tuesday, the separatists launched a major offensive to capture Debaltseve, a vital rail link between Donetsk and Luhansk, another city in the east under their control. The Ukrainian military said it was rushing reinforcements to the region. “[Arming Ukraine] is getting a fresh look. Where things will end up, we don’t know,” the official said. The US and its allies are concerned about the military escalations in recent days. US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to discuss the worsening crisis in the Ukrainian capital Kiev later this week. NATO defense ministers are due to meet in Brussels on Thursday to discuss the escalating crisis. Meanwhile, European leaders and the US are considering tightening the economic embargo against Russia as a means to pressure Moscow. Obama said in December that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not change his “nationalist, backward-looking” policy until the full force of economic sanctions against Moscow hit home. Military tensions between NATO and Moscow have escalated steadily since April, when the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea reunited with the Russian Federation following a referendum a month earlier. The US accuses Russia of arming and supporting pro-Russian forces fighting in the predominantly Russian-speaking areas in eastern Ukraine. Moscow calls the accusations “groundless”. On Monday, Russian Presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Putin is “calling on all the sides in the conflict to immediately end military hostilities and any manifestations of violence”.

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