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U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine: Russia air defense system protecting rebels

The presence of the Russian air defense system, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt said, "suggests Russian forces were protecting" the rebel convoy.

By JC Finley
U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine: Russia air defense system protecting rebels
Russian army rocket launchers enter Red Square in this May 7, 2009 file photo. (UPI Photo/Anatoli Zhdanov) | License Photo

KIEV, Ukraine, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt said Friday that the U.S. has evidence a "Russian air defense system was operating near separatist convoy in Donetsk."

The presence of the air defense system, he said, "suggests Russian forces were protecting" the rebel convoy.

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The revelation followed NATO Commander Philip Breelove's assessment on Thursday that there is "more evidence separatists there are getting lots of help." The OSCE has reported its monitoring drones deployed in eastern Ukraine were "being targeted by high-end antiaircraft weapons and jammers."

Breedlove earlier in the week confirmed "Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian combat troops" were observed crossing the border into Ukraine, lamenting, "The cease-fire is in name only at this point."

Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen, Assistant Secretary-General ad interim for U.N. Political Affairs, told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday the cease-fire in eastern Ukraine is under "continuous and serious strain."

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According to the Minsk Protocol, all parties to the Ukraine conflict agreed on Sept. 5 to de-escalate the crisis through the institution of an immediate cease-fire and the withdrawal of illegal armed groups, mercenaries and military equipment -- two stipulations that have largely been ignored.

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