Ongoing Attacks by Combined Russian-separatist Forces in Eastern Ukraine

Ongoing attacks by combined Russian-separatist forces on the Ukrainian government side of the ceasefire line, including the town of Maryinka and other locations near Donetsk city, are unacceptable and contravene the Minsk agreements. These attacks have reportedly utilized Grad rockets and other heavy weapons that should have been withdrawn under the terms of the February Minsk plan. Russia bears direct responsibility for preventing attacks by combined Russian-separatist forces and implementing a ceasefire. Any attempts to seize additional Ukrainian territory will be met with increased costs.

Combined Russian-separatist forces continue to violate the terms of the February 12 Minsk Package of Measures.

  • The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission reported that the combined Russian-separatist forces concentrated troops and participated in heavy fighting earlier this week around Maryinka, a town near Donetsk.
  • Combined Russian-separatist forces shelled the Avdiivka Coke plant last week, causing this economically vital facility to halt operations for several days.
  • Combined Russian-separatist forces maintain heavy artillery pieces and multiple rocket launcher systems within areas prohibited under the Minsk accords.

Russia maintains a force presence in eastern Ukraine and Russian soldiers play an integral role in sustaining and directing the fighting.

  • Russian officers serve in leadership roles in the combined Russian-separatist force, organizing the force and planning operations.
  • Ukraine’s capture of two Russian special operations soldiers in government-controlled territory north of Luhansk illustrates Russia’s continued direct involvement in operations on the ground.
  • The Russian military still has advanced air defense systems in eastern Ukraine.
  • Russian and separatist forces also have a large concentration of command and control equipment in eastern Ukraine.

Combined Russian-separatist forces have conducted extensive training in eastern Ukraine over the last several months. The complex nature of this training leaves no doubt that Russian military instructors are involved.

  • The training also incorporated Russian UAVs, an unmistakable sign of Russia’s presence.
  • Ukraine also shot down an advanced UAV in late May that bore distinctly Russian identification and requires an airfield to operate.
  • Russia continues to maintain forces along its border with Ukraine, as noted by Western journalists.
  • Since the latest ceasefire took effect on February 15, Russia has shipped additional heavy weapons into eastern Ukraine, adding to the hundreds Russia has already provided.
  • Russia has also built up large ammunition stockpiles both on its border with Ukraine and inside eastern Ukraine, further illustrating its direct support to the separatist forces.

The United States stands firmly with Ukraine in its efforts to build a more democratic, stable, and prosperous future. We will continue to urge full implementation of the Minsk Agreements, including a lasting, verifiable ceasefire and the pullback of heavy weapons under OSCE monitoring.