WASHINGTON, January 25 (Sputnik) – US Vice President Joe Biden thinks independence supporters in southeastern Ukraine (Donbas) are responsible for the escalation of violence in the region, claiming that the militia is Russia-backed and thus Russia should be targeted by more Western sanctions, the White House has said in a press release.
"Vice President Joe Biden spoke today with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko about the situation in eastern Ukraine. The Vice President condemned the attacks and violence in eastern Ukraine initiated by Russia-backed separatists who have launched a military offensive against various cities and towns in the region," the White House statement, released Saturday, said.
Since the start of the Kiev military operation in eastern Ukraine last year in April, Kiev and the West have repeatedly accused Russia of intervening in the Ukrainian crisis, going as far as to claim that Moscow has sent troops and weapons to independence fighters. However, the claims have not been supported with any evidence.
The West has imposed several rounds of sanctions against Russia over its alleged meddling in Ukraine's internal affairs. Moscow has repeatedly stressed that it is not involved in the situation in Ukraine and that sanctions are counterproductive and threaten international stability.
Clashes between Kiev forces and Donbas militia in Ukraine's southeast have intensified in the past month, despite the "regime of silence" declared in December and the ceasefire agreement reached between Kiev and representatives of the self-proclaimed People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk (DPR and LPR) in September in Minsk.