US warns Russia as UN backs ceasefire deal in Ukraine. Putin: West already supplies arms to Kiev

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The US has accused Russia of violating the Minsk agreement on Ukraine, as the UN Security Council voted unanimously to approve the ceasefire deal.

Vice-President Joe Biden said “the costs to Russia will rise” if it continued to violate the accord, the BBC reports.

Fighting is continuing around the strategic town of Debaltseve, with pro-Russian rebels saying they now control most areas.

Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Ukraine’s troops there to surrender.

Although the Security Council unanimously approved a Russian-drafted resolution to endorse the Minsk ceasefire deal agreed in Belarus last week, angry words were exchanged among ambassadors.

US Ambassador Samantha Power welcomed the agreement but said that Russia had to prove its commitment to peace.

She said: “Stop arming the separatists. Stop sending hundreds of heavy weapons across the border in addition to your troops. Stop pretending you are not doing what you are doing.”

She added: “Russia signs agreements then does everything within its power to undermine them. Russia champions the sovereignty of nations and then acts as if a neighbour’s borders do not exist.”

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin called her comments “offensive”.

 

Moscow optimistic about Minsk deal

 

Vladimir Putin said that Kiev is being armed by Western allies, according to Moscow’s information, but insisted he was “optimistic” about implementing the Minsk agreement, noting that the intensity of fighting has declined, rt.com informs.

“According to our data, weapons are already being supplied [to Kiev],” the Russian leader said at a press conference following his meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. “This is not surprising. I am convinced that whoever is supplying the weapons, the number of victims may grow, but the outcome will not change. The vast majority of soldiers serving in the Ukrainian army have no motivation to participate in an internecine conflict away from home, while the Donbass militia have every reason to defend their families.”

Putin urged the Ukrainian government “not to prevent the soldiers in the Debaltsevo cauldron from surrendering, or at least not punish those who simply want to save their lives.”

Up to 5,000 Ukrainian troops are thought to be surrounded in this key area deep inside rebel territory.

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