WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States on Tuesday said Russia has "not shown a shred of evidence" that it is willing to help end the violence between the Ukraine separatists backed by Moscow and the government that is trying to maintain its sovereignty.
Secretary of State John Kerry issued a new warning that the U.S. and European Union are prepared to slap additional sanctions on Russia if it continues to ship weapons, funds and fighters across its border to support the separatists in eastern Ukraine.
He said the fighting between the separatists and Ukraine's military has prevented investigators from obtaining necessary evidence — and even remaining body parts — from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was shot down nearly two weeks ago.
"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 said following a State Department meeting with Ukraine Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin.
Kerry cited "clear evidence" of Russian military support to the separatists, including rocket and artillery fire from Russia into Ukraine.
He also said he spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday morning about what he described as specific proposals to ease the violence.
But Kerry said the separatists will continue to fight "unless they feel some pressure, something real, from their Russian backers" to stop.
For months, the separatists in eastern Ukraine have waged a bloody battle against Kiev to secede from the country and align themselves with Moscow.
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