(Vatican Radio) Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of already delivering weapons to Ukraine in its fight against pro-Russian separatists, but warned it would not change the situation on the ground. He made the comments at a news conference in Budapest with his Hungarian counterpart, Viktor Orbán, where he also urged Ukrainian forces trapped in a key railway to surrender.
Listen to the report by Stefan Bos:
Putin was asked about possible consequences if the U.S. decides to supply weapons to Ukraine.
“According to our information, these weapons are already being delivered,” Putin replied.
He cautioned that U.S. military support could increase the number of victims in a conflict that has already killed more than 5,500 people. Putin warned that the result would be the same as today, adding “this is unavoidable.”
So far, U.S. President Barack Obama has said he was only considering lethal aid to help Ukraine's military in its battle against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
And Washington accuses Moscow of violating a peace deal agreed in Minsk.
Clashes continue, especially around Debaltseve, the key railway hub between rebel-controlled Luhansk and Dunatsk.
Separatists say they have encircled as many as 8,000 Ukrainian forces in Debaltseve. Putin urged Ukraine’s troops in that town to surrender.
“Of course it is always painful to lose, especially when you are losing not to regular military but to people who just yesterday used to be miners or truck drivers,” he said.
“But life goes on. And I believe you shouldn't really clutch to your own grievances of the past. I would like to repeat that the most important task is to save the lives of the people in the area right now. We must make sure that these people go home to their families alive,” Putin added.
Despite sharp difference the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a Russian-drafted resolution that endorses a new cease-fire accord on Ukraine, and stresses the country’s independence.
It also urges all parties to observe the ceasefire, which has been shaken by fierce fighting.