Ukraine, US Accuse Russia, Separatists of Escalating Situation
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced on Wednesday that Russia had more than 9000 troops and 500 tanks, heavy artillery and armoured personnel carriers in eastern Ukraine.
Poroshenko hurled this accusation during his visit at the World Economic Forum in Davos, which he had to leave earlier due to the renewed escalation of violence in Ukraine, the BBC reports.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry accused the pro-Russian separatists of considerably extending the area under their control and thus violating the Minsk ceasefire agreement.
Moscow denies the accusations, while Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a new peace plan last week, which called for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy artillery by both sides.
A meeting of the so-called “Normandy format” took place in Berlin between the foreign ministers of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine, who issued a joint call on ending the fighting.
The foreign ministers agreed on pulling back heavy weapons 15 kilometres from a demarcation line, which had been defined in the Minsk agreement.
The latest surge of fighting between government forces and separatists has centred around the airport of Donetsk, which is of high symbolic and strategic value.
There have also been reports of fresh separatist advance northwest of the city of Luhansk, where fighting has reportedly concentrated on two checkpoints along a main road.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced that a new law on the military had been tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.
The proposal foresees an increase in the size of the Ukrainian army with 68 000 people, which would bring it to a total of 250 000 personnel.
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