Over 400 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in clashes over the last year after the ceasefire agreement was signed in Minsk and subsequently implemented. It has been said that Russia plays an important role in the conflict.
During an interview with Voice of America correspondant Carla Babb, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in charge of issues relating to Ukraine, Russia and Eurasia, Michael Carpenter, stated that the US is seeing a “significant” increase in conflict in eastern Ukraine.
According to him, despite the ceasefire agreement, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have lost at least 430 people in clashes with separatists.
When asked about Russia's role in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Carpenter responded "Let me be very blunt on this point:Russia maintains command-and-control links over the separatists that it backs over in eastern Ukraine. We see Russia continuing to pour heavy weapons into the region. We believe that Russia still maintains a force presence inside eastern Ukraine and certainly trains and controls the separatists there in the Donbas. So this is a Russia-fostered problem."
The OSCE has also noted an increase in ceasefire violations over the last several months.
On Tuesday, the Commander of the European Command, Philip Breedlove, reported to the Senate Armed Services Committee that 71 attacks had occurred the previous day. A total of 450 attacks occurred during the previous seven days.
Breedlove has suggested that the US supply Ukraine with lethal weapons. However, despite his recommendation and the trends, the Obama Administration has not included lethal weapons in its supplies to Ukraine.
Carpenter promotes solving the conflict through diplomacy and sanctions as opposed to providing arms to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. "We have calculated from the beginning that the solution to the conflict in the Donbas is not on the battlefield but is precisely through diplomatic and economic [measures], meaning sanctions pressure. And we are fully committed to maintaining sanctions against Russia until the Minsk agreement is fully implemented," Carpenter explained.
On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama extended sanctions against Russia for another year.