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2020.02.20 16:47

Russia unwilling to implement ceasefire in Ukraine – Lithuanian foreign minister

BNS2020.02.20 16:47

Russia continues to violate the Minsk agreements and the recent flare-up of violence in eastern Ukraine shows Moscow isn't willing to implement a ceasefire, Lithuanian foreign minister said on Thursday.

"They are testing their force again to look at what the reaction will be," Linkevičius told reporters on Thursday. "And although [Russia] says it's not them, but the separatists [and] everyone [else] is perfectly aware that these are the forces that [Russia] trains, funds and supports."

One Ukrainian soldier was killed during fierce battles in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, and another four were injured. These were the biggest battles with Russian-backed separatists in the past several months. Separatists said they lost four fighters.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called this bloodshed "a cynical provocation" that undermined new efforts to resolve the conflict.

Linkevičius said new weapons banned under the Minsk Agreements signed by Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France in February 2015 continue to be used.

"I believe what [Russia] is doing does not strengthen their position in the international arena," said the foreign minister, adding that there is "no sincerity" by Russia to implement the Minsk Agreements.

According to Linkevicius, it's not easy to introduce additional EU sanctions for Russia and it's "not the worst scenario when we manage to maintain the existing one".

'But such events provide us with more instruments," Linkevičius said.

Over 13,000 people have been killed since the fighting began in 2014.