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    Ukrainian servicemen load ammunition into a tank in Avdiivka, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017

    Ukraine Increasing Military Presence in Donbass, Sends Nationalists There

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    Kiev is stepping up its military presence along the contact line in Donbass and has sent nationalist militants there, the Russian Investigative Committee said.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Armed Forces of Ukraine (VSU) keep increasing presence along the contact line in Donbass, deploying forces there, including the "Donbas" nationalist battalion, Russian Investigative Committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko said Tuesday.

    "The Kiev authorities continue to illegally, in violation of the Minsk agreements and ceasefire commitments arising from them, actively build up their military presence along the contact line, deploying additional forces there, including units of the 79th air assault brigade, as well as the 'Donbas' nationalist battalion and the 'Azov' regiment," Petrenko said.

    The situation in Donbass has escalated over the past few days, in particular near the town of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region, where clashes between Kiev forces and the troops of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) have intensified. The conflicting parties have both accused each other of initiating the violence.

    The Donbass conflict erupted in April 2014 as a local counter-reaction to the West-sponsored Maidan coup in Kiev that had toppled legitimate President Viktor Yanukovych in February. Residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions held independence referendums and proclaimed the People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Kiev has since been conducting a military operation, encountering stiff local resistance.

    In February 2015, Kiev forces and Donbass independence supporters signed a peace agreement in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. The deal stipulates a full ceasefire, weapons withdrawal from the line of contact in Donbass, as well as constitutional reforms that would give a special status to the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics. Despite the agreement, the ceasefire regime is regularly violated, with both sides accusing each other of multiple breaches, undermining the terms of the accord.

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    Tags:
    Ukrainian crisis, Ukrainian Armed Forces, Donbass volunteer battalion, Azov Regiment, Russian Investigative Committee, Svetlana Petrenko, Donbass, Ukraine, Russia
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