Russia and pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas have strengthened their position along the contact line, partially through the use of heavy weapons that had previously been kept in storage facilities.
The Chargé d'Affaires at the US Mission to the OSCE, Kate Byrnes, announced the development on Thursday during a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna, according to Ukrinform.
"Russia regularly attempts to convince the Permanent Council that it bears no responsibility for the conflict in the Donbas, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary," said the representative of the United States.
In Byrnes’ own words, combined Russian-separatist forces have been building fortifications on the contact line over the past two weeks.
"In recent days, the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) also observed 75 weapons missing from storage sites and concentrations of armed men in separatist-held Luhansk," added Byrnes.
In this connection, Byrnes called it "no coincidence” that the access of OSCE observers is limited by pro-Russian forces in areas where weapons have previously been found, particularly in the area of Kalynove.
"The Minsk agreements were designed not merely to end the conflict, but to restore to the Ukrainian government authority over its sovereign territory in the Donbas," said the U.S. representative. She once again condemned the Russian government's decision to recognize the so-called "passport" of the L/DPR“ as valid for crossing between Ukraine and the Russian Federation.”
"Our sanctions for Russia’s aggression in Ukraine remain in place. We stress once again that our sanctions related to Russia’s occupation of the Crimea will remain in place until Russia returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine," said the U.S. diplomat.
The representative of the United States called on Russia to comply with the Helsinki Final Act, in which all participating states acknowledged that their border each other inviolable and pledged to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each State party.