The United States is gravely concerned by the deteriorating situation in and around Debaltseve in eastern Ukraine. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission confirms that attacks continue in this area as well as other locations, including Sievierodonetsk, Luhansk, and Donetsk city. The Government of Ukraine reports that its forces have been fired on 129 times in the last 24 hours by Russia-backed separatists, killing 5 and wounding 25, including attacks on a convoy evacuating the wounded from Debaltseve. The separatists have publicly declared that they refuse to observe the ceasefire in Debaltseve, and OSCE monitors have not been provided security guarantees for access. These aggressive actions and statements by the Russia-backed separatists threaten the most recent ceasefire and jeopardize the planned withdrawal of heavy weapons, as called for in the February 12 Minsk packet of implementing measures. We are closely monitoring reports of a new column of Russian military equipment moving toward Debaltseve.
We call on Russia and the separatists it backs to halt all attacks immediately, engage with the OSCE to facilitate the ceasefire, and, as called for in the packet of measures agreed to on February 12, fully implement their September 5 and 19 Minsk commitments.