25 March 2019
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says the separatists are attacking along the entire front line. Photo: Bloomberg
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says the separatists are attacking along the entire front line. Photo: Bloomberg

Russia faces mounting pressure over rising Ukraine violence

Russia is facing further repercussions from the West over violence in Ukraine after fighting spread along the front line between government troops and pro-Russian rebels.

The United States and the European Union warned that Russia may face further repercussions after a rocket attack on the port city of Mariupol on Saturday.

The projectiles were launched from rebel-held territory, Bloomberg reported Monday, citing the US, NATO, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said.

The separatists blamed government forces.

The battles erupting on the Sea of Azov coast indicate further escalation after fighting intensified this month, eradicating a truce signed in September.

The rise in violence sparked a flurry of diplomatic activity, with the US and its allies putting pressure on Russia to use its influence on the rebels. The Kremlin consistently denies military involvement.

“We are deeply concerned about the latest break in the cease-fire and the aggression these separatists” with Russian support are showing, US President Barack Obama said at a news conference in New Delhi with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“We will continue to take the approach we have taken in the past, which is to ratchet up the pressure on Russia.”

On Sunday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the separatists are attacking along the entire front line.

Ukraine, the US and its allies accuse Russia of supporting the rebels with hardware, cash and thousands of troops, accusations the Kremlin has repeatedly denied.

Russia said the government in Kiev is waging war against its own citizens and discriminating against Russian speakers, who make up the majority of the populations of Donetsk and Luhansk.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Russian President Vladimir Putin in a Sunday phone call to avoid further escalation in the conflict and to exert influence on the separatists to adhere to the cease-fire signed in September in Minsk, Belarus, according to an e-mailed statement from the Berlin government’s press office.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke by phone with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s top diplomat, in separate calls, his ministry said Sunday on its website.

He agreed with Kerry on the need for an immediate truce and urged direct talks between the government in Kiev and the rebels, according to the statement.

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