NATO commander: Russia fueling armed conflict in Ukraine

A Russian-backed separatist walks past a tank at the checkpoint north of Luhansk, eastern Ukraine. (© AP Images)

Russia is “fueling and continuing the armed conflict” in eastern Ukraine, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, told reporters on February 25.

Breedlove said Russia’s actions violate international law, and the best way to end the conflict is “through a political solution.”

Since the start of the eastern Ukraine conflict, Russia has transferred more than 1,000 pieces of military equipment to pro-Russian separatists, including tanks, armored personnel carriers and heavy artillery.

“These have been used on the front lines against Ukrainian forces,” Breedlove said. Additionally, “Russian specialized troops, ‘or little green men,’” help train and direct the separatists.

“These actions do not aid the re-establishment of normal relations,” Breedlove said. “Actions matter much more than words, and what we see on the ground is a revanchist Russia that does not play by international rules or norms.”

The United States supports the Ukrainian people and their right to choose their future and develop their democracy and economy, according to the 2015 National Security Strategy. America and its allies have levied economic sanctions against Russian aggression to promote Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights reports that more than 5,000 people have been killed since the start of the conflict in April 2014 and over 1 million displaced.