THE PENTAGON - Simmering tensions in Eastern Ukraine are rising yet again, as President Petro Poroshenko said Monday he is ending a unilateral cease-fire in the conflict with pro-Russian separatists. A top U.S. and NATO general is laying much of the blame on Russia.
Even with the cease-fire in effect, peace seemed elusive.
In the flashpoint town of Slovyansk, in eastern Ukraine, some residents were quick to place blame on Kyiv. "What is it, a truce? How can one even call it a truce? Can't Poroshenko and his newly-elected government see what is happening, that people are dying?" said Lyudmila a resident of Slovyansk.
But even before the cease-fire fell apart, NATO’s top general was expressing doubt that Russia would let it hold.
“What we see is continued conflict, continued support of the conflict from the east side of the border, and until we see those things turn around, I think we need to watch with a wary eye,” said Breedlove.
NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Philip Breedlove said Russia still has at least seven battalion task groups along the Ukraine border, as well as numerous small special operation forces. And not everything is staying put. “There are several types and capabilities that are moving across that border,” he stated.
Just weeks ago, NATO released satellite imagery showing 10 Russian tanks arriving at a staging point just 75 kilometers from the Ukraine border, with three of those tanks eventually crossing over.
General Breedlove said there also is a “very good likelihood” that Russian weapons were used to shoot down a Ukrainian military helicopter.
And he warned that irregular Russian forces remain “very active” inside Eastern Ukraine.