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Russia warns on arms supply

By Agencies in Moscow and Kiev | China Daily | Updated: 2015-02-11 07:57

At least 12 killed in latest fighting and Merkel admits she cannot guarantee a cease-fire deal

Russia warned on Tuesday that Washington's plans to supply Kiev with arms would further destabilize the situation in Ukraine.

"Russia is truly interested in solving the crisis. All other plans to increase sanctions, supply arms and so on, are aimed at destabilizing the situation in Ukraine," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov when he was commenting on a statement made by US President Barack Obama.

If the US decides to supply weapons to Ukraine, Russia will most likely respond diplomatically, Nikolai Patrushev, head of the Kremlin's Security Council, said on Tuesday.

"If they supply weapons, it will be a further escalation of the conflict, it will grow," Patrushev was quoted as saying by TASS news agency.

The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany were hoping to meet in Minsk on Wednesday to hammer out a peace deal to end the 10-month conflict that has killed at least 5,400 people.

Obama on Monday agreed to hold off a controversial decision on sending arms to Ukraine until German-led efforts to broker a cease-fire with Russia are given a chance.

Hosting German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House, Obama said he hoped she could reach a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine, but warned more punitive measures are in the pipeline if that fails.

Obama indicated that further sanctions and "lethal defense" assistance are now on the table, but said no decision had been made yet.

Merkel has opposed sending arms, warning it would escalate a war that Ukraine cannot win. But she acknowledged that a drive to reach a cease-fire deal with Putin may not succeed.

"I cannot give you a guarantee for the outcome of the Wednesday talks and maybe nothing will come out of it," she said.

Intense fighting

At least seven Ukrainian soldiers and five civilians have been killed in the latest fighting in the east of the country, including in battleground town Debaltseve, Kiev and the rebels said on Tuesday.

"Seven soldiers were killed and 23 wounded in fighting and attacks on their positions," military spokesman Vladislav Seleznev said in Kiev.

Three civilians were killed and seven wounded by artillery fire on railway hub Debaltseve over the last 24 hours, local Kiev-loyalist police said, as rebels try to encircle the strategic town.

At least two civilians were killed in rebel stronghold Donetsk, local separatist authorities said.

Reuters - AFP - Xinhua

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