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Violence Increases in Eastern Ukraine

Local residents walk across a bridge damaged during fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed rebels in Stanytsia Luhanska, Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, Jan. 16, 2016.
Increase in Violence in Eastern Ukraine Seen
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The United States has noticed an increase in fighting in Eastern Ukraine, a Department of Defense official told VOA.

Despite an agreement for a ceasefire in 2015, about 430 Ukrainian armed forces have died, said Michael Carpenter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense.

Ukrainian government soldiers are battling Russian-backed military forces. The pro-Russian forces have carried out hundreds of attacks in eastern Ukraine in the last week, according to one NATO military leader.

Carpenter told VOA that the fighting in Ukraine is fueled by Russia. He said the solution is diplomatic and economic pressure on Russia.

NATO top commander U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove spoke to reporters at the Pentagon, and said that “disturbing trends” had formed in Ukraine. He told Congress on Tuesday that attacks have increased. He said there have been more than 470 attacks in the past week.

Breedlove also said sections of Ukraine that saw no fighting in the past are now under attack.

The surge in violence has officials calling for more resources to aid Ukraine and stop Russian aggression. But Breedlove told American lawmakers, “the personnel, equipment and resources necessary to carry out its ongoing mission” is not available.

Ukraine declared independence in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union. Pro-Russian separatists have fought in the region since March 2014.

I’m Jim Dresbach.

VOA Pentagon Correspondent Carla Babb wrote this story. Jim Dresbach adapted her report for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

NATOn. short for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; a group of countries that have agreed to provide military support to each other.

fueled - v. to give support or strength to something​

surge n. a sudden, large increase

personneln. the people who work for a particular organization

missionn. a task or job that someone is given to do