On Thursday, America’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, condemned Russian support for Ukrainian terrorists in strong terms.
“The United States stands with the people of Ukraine, who have suffered for nearly three years under Russian occupation and military intervention. Until Russia and the separatists it supports respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, this crisis will continue,” she said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded on Friday by hoping “pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine had enough ammunition to respond to what he called aggressive actions by the Ukrainian army,” as Reuters put it.
“The main thing is to persuade Kiev to drop such reckless actions which are capable of undermining the Minsk peace process,” Peskov added. That is the very same “peace process” Haley said Russia was disrupting by supporting the separatists.
Russia’s TASS news agency translated Peskov’s remarks a bit differently and said he called for Kiev to “give up its criminal adventures.”
TASS also quotes Peskov saying Russia will “continue to bring consistently and with substantiated argumentation our position to all the participants in UN Security Council sessions and to our other partners, including to the US permanent representative.”
AFP reports nine more deaths on Friday in clashes between Ukrainian forces and the insurgents backed by Russia, bringing the death toll to 34 for the week — the highest level since the hottest days of the insurgency in 2015.
According to the Ukrainian army, two of Friday’s dead were civilians. The rebels responded by claiming Ukrainian shelling killed two civilians in the town of Donetsk. Much of the recent fighting has taken the form of mortar and rocket exchanges. The most recent agreement between Ukraine, Russia, and the rebels called for heavy weapons to be withdrawn from the front lines by Sunday.
AFP portrays Ambassador Haley’s statement as welcome news for Ukraine, which was worried the new administration might ease sanctions against Russia or otherwise abandon Kiev to its fate.