Russia issued a warning to the United States after it was suggested by one official that arms should be sent to Ukrainian forces fighting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, according to reports.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said the move would be construed as sending a “very serious signal.” Pro-Russian rebels have been fighting government forces since April.
Lukashevich issued a warning against “a major change in policy of the [U.S.] administration in regard to the conflict” in eastern Ukraine, reported the Moscow Times.
“That [would be] a direct violation of agreements reached, including [agreements reached] with the participation of the United States,” he told the publication.
His comments come a few days after US State Department spokesman Jeffrey Rathke said that the US is “continuing to assess how best to support Ukraine,” adding that “nothing is off the table.”
Meanwhile, on Friday, Ukraine accused Russia of shelling its territory for the first time since September.
“Over the past day, for the first time since the signing of the Minsk agreement, the shooting of Ukrainian territory restarted from the side of the Russian Federation,” Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said Friday, according to Sky News.
He said artillery was fired at a border post near Lugansk, which has been hard-hit in the conflict.
Russia received a warning from US Vice President Joe Biden, who said the Kremlin could be isolated further. Biden is visiting the Ukrainian capital of Kiev this week.
“Do what you agreed to do, Mr. Putin,” Biden said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, reported the Wall Street Journal.
“If Russia were to fulfill these commitments and respect Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, we could begin a rational discussion about sanctions,” Biden said. “But that’s not what has happened. Instead we’ve seen more provocative actions, more blatant disregard for the agreement.”
In a meeting with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Biden said the United States and its allies in Europe and the G-7 would work “to increase the costs to Russia if it continues on its current course of blatantly violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Biden stopped short of announcing that the United States would provide lethal military aid to Ukraine. The United States has already given Ukraine $53 million in non-lethal aid.
The protests that began a year ago in Kiev led to the ouster of Ukraine’s former pro-Russian president in February. Russia then annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in March and began backing a pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.