Washington: There is clear evidence of Russia supplying arms and military hardware to Ukrainian separatists, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday and warned that the US and European Union were prepared to slap additional sanctions on Russia for fuelling the crisis.
"The Russians and their so-called volunteers are continuing to ship arms and funds and personnel across the border. We see this. There is clear evidence of it. We now have clear evidence of artillery and rocket fire from Russia into Ukraine," Kerry told reporters in a joint news conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin.
Kerry told reporters he conveyed these concerns to his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov during a telephonic conversation this morning.
"This morning, I talked with Foreign Minister Lavrov and raised these concerns and agreed that there is a way to try to put some very specific proposals on the table to try to move forward," he said.
While the Russians have said that they want to de-escalate the conflict, their actions have not shown a shred of evidence that they really have a legitimate desire to end the violence and end the bloodshed, Kerry alleged.
"As a result, the Russian-backed separatists refuse to lay down their arms and be part of the political process. They continue to fire on Ukrainian forces, even in the area just around the crash site, and they have displayed an appalling disregard for human decency.
"And evidently, the separatists will continue to do so unless they can feel some pressure - something real from their Russian backers," he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said can make a huge difference here if he chooses to.
"We and our European partners will take additional measures and impose wider sanctions on key sections of the Russian economy if that is what we must do. We hope that it will not be necessary. And if Russia continues to go down this path, however, Russia will leave the international community with no choice," said the Secretary of State.
On his first trip to the US as a Foreign Minister, Klimkin said the Government of Ukraine is committed to the settlement of the situation in Donetsk and Luhansk and the peace plan of the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko gives peace a chance.
"It includes three main dimensions. It`s firstly about de-escalation and reaching a cease-fire. Secondly, it`s about humanitarian dimension and restoring the infrastructure disrupted on the ground," he said.