Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S. called Thursday’s shelling of a village school by Russian-backed separatist forces “a brutal violation of the cease-fire” agreement.
Oksana Markarova told CNN’s John Berman that “kids and teachers were present” when separatist forces bombed the Stanytsa Lugansk in the Luhansk region of Ukraine, which damaged a musical school.
“The fact is the Russia-led and -backed forces” shelled the village, she said. “There is a Russian side of the story, which is not correct.”
As tensions build up over a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, fighting broke out on Thursday, alarming nations across the world. Both Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels accused each other on Thursday of firing across a cease-fire line in eastern Ukraine.
The so-called Luhansk People’s Republic, a rebel region, said Ukraine used mortars, grenade launchers and a machine gun in four different incidents. Ukraine accused the separatist forces of the village bombing.
The U.S. has previously warned Russia could stage a false flag operation as a pretext to invade Ukraine, as about 150,000 troops have gathered at the border of the country.
Markarova said there is currently “immense pressure” in the region but did not directly say whether Russia would invade the nation any day now, as U.S. intelligence has warned.
“Let me repeat: We have lived under this threat for the past eight years,” she said. “Our assessment of the risks is the same. Ukrainians cannot afford to panic, [but] we are getting prepared to defend our country.”