A militant of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic patrols the damaged building of a local school located near the line of separation from the Ukrainian armed forces in the settlement of Molodizhne (Molodezhnoye) in the Luhansk region, Ukraine February 17, 2022.
Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters
The Ukrainian government and Russian state-controlled media on Friday exchanged fresh accusations of cease-fire violations near the country’s eastern border.
In a statement on Facebook, the Ukrainian Joint Forces Operation said 45 cease-fire violations had been recorded in eastern Ukraine on Friday as of 2 p.m. local time. The JFO alleged that 34 of those violations included the use of weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements, which Russia, Ukraine and pro-Moscow separatists signed in 2014 and 2015 to prevent a war in eastern Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Russian state-controlled media agency RIA claimed on Friday that Ukrainian government forces had launched three shelling strikes against Russian-backed separatists.
CNBC was unable to verify either report.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on Thursday said its mission in Ukraine had reported almost 600 cease-fire violations in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, substantially higher than the 153 violations reported during the previous period.
Meanwhile, Michael Carpenter, U.S. ambassador to the OSCE, said on Friday that the U.S. estimated Russia had amassed between 169,000 to 190,000 military personnel near Ukraine — up from 100,000 on Jan. 30.
Denis Pushilin, head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, announced on Friday that the DPR would begin an immediate evacuation of its residents to Russia amid intensifying shelling. Russian state media RIA also reported on the evacuation plans. CNBC has not been able to independently verify these claims.
The east of Ukraine, near the Russian border, has long been the scene of low-level fighting. The OSCE has regularly reports violations of the cease-fire in eastern Ukraine during the eight-year conflict, in which around 13,000 people have died.
The new allegations came after Russian officials reportedly circulated a document at the U.N. Security Council meeting on Thursday which Reuters reported made allegations that war crimes had been committed in Ukraine, and accused the Ukrainian government of “exterminating the civilian population” in the country’s east.
A U.S. official dubbed those accusations as “categorically false,” according to Reuters.
The U.S. has warned that Russia could use false assertions, including claims about the conflict in eastern Ukraine, as a pretext for an invasion.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that these assertions could include a fabricated terrorist bombing inside Russia, the invented discovery of a mass grave, a staged drone strike against civilians or a fake — or real — attack using chemical…
Read More: More shelling reported in Ukraine as Blinken warns invasion imminent