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 Russia pulls in troops and equipment to Debaltseve - US Department of State

The United States accused Russia on Friday of massing artillery and rocket systems around a contested town in eastern Ukraine and joining pro-Russian rebels in attacking Ukrainian forces, calling such actions a violation of the spirit of a cease-fire agreement signed just one day earlier.

Censor.NET reports citing The New York Times.

Read also: Terrorists committed Uragan fire attack on western suburbs of Debaltseve - ATO press center

The accusation, made by the State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, also said that the Russian military had deployed air defense systems near the town of Debaltseve. Thousands of Ukrainian soldiers in Debaltseve have been reported to be surrounded by pro-Russian terrorists and fighting has escalated there ahead of the scheduled Saturday night start of the cease-fire.

"The Russian military has deployed a large amount of artillery and multiple rocket launcher systems around Debaltseve, where it is shelling Ukrainian positions," Ms. Psaki said, reading a prepared statement. "We are confident that these are Russian military, not separatist systems."

Ms. Psaki also said that the United States had reliable reports that Russia was preparing a large shipment of supplies to pro-Russian forces fighting in Ukraine.

Read also: Terrorists were given task to raise the flag over Debaltseve and Mariupol by Feb. 15 - Defense Ministry

This was the first time that the Obama administration has accused Russia of taking a direct hand in an assault on Ukrainian forces since the cease-fire agreement was signed.

The Russians, who have insisted they are not assisting the separatists, helped negotiate the truce agreement reached on Thursday in Minsk, Belarus - the second in the nearly year-old eastern Ukraine war - which calls for a formal halt to hostilities at midnight Saturday.

American officials said that the attack on Debaltseve, a strategically important railroad hub midway between the main militants-held cities of Luhansk and Donetsk, was a violation of the spirit of that agreement.

Read also: Debaltseve salient. Operational environment as of Feb. 13, 1 a.m. from Yurii Butusov

On Thursday, American officials warned the Kremlin and the separatists not to try to seize new territory before the cease-fire takes effect.

Источник: https://censor.net.ua/en/n324632