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Russia slams US decision to arm Ukraine

The US State Department said on Friday the United States would provide Ukraine with ‘enhanced defensive capabilities’.

FILE: A Russian troop stands guard in front of an APC at a check-point in Crimea, near the town of Armyansk in 2014. Picture: AFP.

MOSCOW - The US decision to supply weapons to Ukraine is dangerous as it will encourage Kiev to use force in eastern Ukraine, Russian officials said on Saturday.

The US State Department said on Friday the United States would provide Ukraine with “enhanced defensive capabilities” as Kiev battles Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country.

Supplies of any weapons now encourage those who support the conflict in Ukraine to use the “force scenario,” Russia’s RIA state news agency cited Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin as saying on Saturday.

Franz Klintsevich, a member of the upper house of parliament’s security committee, said Kiev would consider arms supplies as support of its actions, Interfax news agency reported.

“Americans, in fact, directly push Ukrainian forces to war,” Klintsevich said.

After Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Ukraine and Russia are at loggerheads over a war in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces that has killed more than 10,000 people in three years.

Kiev accuses Moscow of sending troops and heavy weapons to the region, which Russia denies.

The Russian foreign ministry said the US decision once again undermines Minsk agreements, TASS state news agency reported on Saturday.

Minsk agreements intended to end the fighting in Ukraine were signed by Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France in the Belarussian capital in early 2015.

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