Washington: Noting that in the last several months Russia has not used its influence to encourage the separatists to abide by a ceasefire in Ukraine, the US today alleged that Moscow in fact is taking steps that could be actually contributing to the instability in the region.
"In the last several months, Russia has not used that influence to encourage the separatists to abide by a ceasefire. In fact, we`ve actually seen Russia take steps that could be considered proactive steps that are actually contributing to the instability in that area," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
The US, he said, has been in regular consultation with its partners in Europe about isolating Russia and putting pressure on Moscow to use their influence to try to find a diplomatic resolution to the instability being seen in Ukraine right now.
"What we have sought is to work in coordination with our partners in Europe to put pressure on President Putin to change course, to change his strategy. Those talks among European leaders will continue, and in the context of those talks senior administration officials will be in touch with their European counterparts about steps they could take."
Without going into details, Earnest said additional steps are being contemplated by the Obama administration as necessary to put additional pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to use his influence to contribute positively to resolving the situation in Ukraine.
"So far their contributions have been almost entirely negative. We would like to see the Russians pursue a different course to change their strategy and pursue the kind of diplomatic solution that we know is capable of resolving the conflict there," he said.
For months, he said, the Russian government has been actively supporting the separatists in eastern Ukraine.
"In fact, some of those separatist leaders are Russian citizens. We also know, and we actually announced in the context of the sanctions regime that we`re putting in place on Wednesday, that Russia continues to provide heavy weapons to these separatists by moving heavy weapons from Russia across the border into Ukraine," he said.
"We also know that the Russians are actively engaged in training separatists to use those weapons, including some anti-aircraft weapons. In fact, the separatists have claimed some success on this front. They have boasted in the last several weeks of shooting down three different Ukrainian aircraft. So there`s a track record here," he added.
"We also know, according to social media reports, that the separatists last week had access to an SA-11 system, the kind of system that is capable of reaching aircraft at high altitudes.
"We also know that the missile that downed the Malaysian plane was fired from a separatist controlled area. We know that the Ukrainian military was not operating anti-aircraft weapons in that area at that time," he said.
"We`ve seen social media accounts of that SA-11 system moving from Ukraine back across the border into Russia. And we`ve seen social media accounts of the separatists talking about the shoot down of the plane. So what`s clear is that there is a picture that`s coming into focus. And Russian claims to the contrary are getting both more desperate and much harder to believe," Earnest said.