Kiev accuses Russia of sending more tanks to east Ukraine

Kiev accuses Russia of sending more tanks to east Ukraine
# 20 February 2015 22:37 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Kiev accused Russia on Friday of sending more tanks and troops into eastern Ukraine and said they were heading towards the rebel-held town of Novoazovsk on the southern coast, expanding their presence on what could be the next battlefront, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Russia did not immediately respond to the accusation which, if confirmed, would help kill off a European-brokered truce that was met by relentless rebel advances since it came into force on Sunday. Moscow has always denied charges in the past that its forces are fighting in Ukraine.

Novoazovsk lies on the Sea of Azov, 40 km (25 miles) east of the port city of Mariupol. It was captured by rebels last year and Kiev fears it could be a launch pad for strikes on Mariupol, a government-held port of 500,000 people that controls routes to the south and possibly to the Crimea peninsula annexed by Russia a year ago.

"In recent days, despite the Minsk (ceasefire) agreement, military equipment and ammunition have been sighted crossing from Russia into Ukraine," military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said. He said more than 20 Russian tanks, 10 missile systems and busloads of troops had crossed the border into Ukraine. The United States also says it has sighted Russian reinforcements.

Kiev said rebels had attacked 49 times in the last 24 hours, proof that they were still ignoring the truce, despite having achieved their main objective this week by capturing the railway hub of Debaltseve. The rebels said government forces also fired.

Western nations have publicly clung to the hope that they can revive the peace deal brokered by France and Germany in the Belarussian capital Minsk on Feb. 12, even though the rebels ignored it to seize Debaltseve, inflicting one of the worst defeats on Kiev of the 10-month-old war.

"We are more convinced than ever that they must be applied - all the agreements, nothing but the agreements," French President Francois Hollande said in Paris alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday.

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