Fighting in eastern Ukraine has sharply escalated, with indications of a large-scale offensive by Russian-backed separatists at multiple locations in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts as well as against the city of Mariupol. This is in utter disregard of the ceasefire. The shelling of residential areas in the city of Mariupol from separatist-controlled territory has cost the lives of at least 20 civilians, and injured many more.
Bilateral meeting between NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic, Martin Stropnicky
For several months we have seen the presence of Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, as well as a substantial increase in Russian heavy equipment such as tanks, artillery and advanced air defence systems. Russian troops in eastern Ukraine are supporting these offensive operations with command and control systems, air defence systems with advanced surface-to-air missiles, unmanned aerial systems, advanced multiple rocket launcher systems, and electronic warfare systems.
I strongly urge Russia to stop its military, political and financial support for the separatists, stop destabilising Ukraine and respect its international commitments.