Russian president Vladimir Putin has suggested that the US is already delivering weapons to Ukraine.
At a news conference in Budapest with Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, Putin was asked how he assessed the possible consequences if the US decides to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine in its fight against Russian-backed separatists.
He answered that “according to our information, these weapons are already being delivered”.
He said the new weapons for Ukraine could increase the number of victims but “the result will be the same as it is today. This is unavoidable”.
Russia is asking the UN Security Council to vote on a draft resolution endorsing the new ceasefire agreement on Ukraine and calling on all parties involved to carry it out fully.
The council’s current president, China, announced the meeting yesterday.
An expected vote over the weekend was delayed when other council members pressed Russia to add language about Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, the passenger jet that was shot down last year over rebel-held eastern Ukraine.
Council members said they wanted to make sure the 298 victims were not forgotten.
The latest draft of the resolution reaffirms last year’s council resolution that calls for an independent investigation into the crash and for those responsible to be held accountable.
Meanwhile, Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine have said they will begin withdrawing heavy weaponry from the sections of the frontline where the ceasefire holds.
Rebel military spokesman Eduard Basurin was quoted as saying they will take the “initiative” and pull back from some areas of the frontline.
This does not appear to include the railway hub of Debaltseve, the epicentre of fighting in recent days.
The separatists said earlier yesterday that they had gained control of Debaltseve. The Donetsk News Agency, a rebel mouthpiece, quoted the separatists as saying their forces had pushed government troops out of Debaltseve and controlled a large part of it.
Fierce fighting yesterday appeared to be focused on the city, which both sides claim is on their side of the ceasefire line.
Ukrainian military spokesmen said at least five troops were killed and nine injured in the warzone in the past 24 hours as separatists continued to attack government positions, and the pullout hinged on the ceasefire being fully observed.
“As soon as the militants cease fire, the Ukrainian side will begin to withdraw heavy weaponry from the front line,” he said.
The war in eastern Ukraine has already killed more than 5,600 people and displaced more than a million, according to UN figures. It has also left the country’s industrial heartland in ruins.
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