US military officials are considering sending warships to the Black Sea in the coming weeks to “show support for Ukraine,” CNN quoted a Pentagon official as saying.
Earlier, he told Ukraine that one of its soldiers was killed in shelling by pro-Russian separatists east of the country, while Moscow confirming that they do not plan to intervene in the conflict and they will take any action based on the development of events.
According to a statement issued by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, the separatists violated the ceasefire 5 times near the towns of visky and vodiany in the south of the Donbass region, between midnight and 7 a.m.
Following the announcement of a soldier’s death today, the number of Ukrainian military deaths has risen to 11 in the last two weeks.
Clashes broke out in Donbass between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists who unilaterally declared independence in 2014, killing thousands since then.
Relations between Kiev and Moscow have been tense for some 7 years, due to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and its support for separatists in the Donbass.
In its report, the European Organization for cooperation and security noted that 1,500 ceasefire violations were detected in the first days of this month.
For their part, pro-Russian separatists announced that the Ukrainian army this morning shelled the perimeter of the southeastern city of Donetsk.
Exercises with NATO
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Defense Minister Andrei Tarn revealed that his armed forces will participate in 7 exercises with NATO during the current year.
The Ukrainian minister said that these exercises are an important engine for Kiev’s bid for NATO membership, especially in light of rising tensions in the Donbass region and what he called Russian aggression.
President Volodymyr Zelensky met yesterday with the head of the NATO Military Committee Stuart beach, and the Ukrainian presidency announced that Zelensky stressed during the meeting Kiev’s commitment to the ceasefire agreement in the east of the country signed last July.
The meeting from the Ukrainian side was attended by the minister of Defense Andriy Taran, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces Ruslan khomchak, a number of security officials and politicians.
Yesterday, Zelensky telephoned NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, urging him to present a practical plan to accelerate his country’s accession to the alliance and strengthen its military presence in the Black Sea.
In context, a German government statement reported that Chancellor Angela Merkel informed Russian President Vladimir Putin -in a telephone call-that his country should reduce its troops at the Ukrainian border.
In contrast, the said Secretary of the National Security Council Nikolai Patrushev said that his country does not plan to in the Ukrainian conflict, and it is monitoring the situation closely and will take any action based on the development of events.
Patrushev said in an interview with Kommersant that the current escalation in Donbass “is a consequence of Ukraine’s internal problems in which the authorities are trying to distract attention from what they are.”
On a related note, the Russian Foreign Ministry called on Ukraine and NATO countries to stop military preparations and abandon what it called actions that would destabilize eastern Ukraine.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Kiev continues to push additional troops towards the Donbass contact lines, violating the Minsk agreements, stressing Moscow’s