MOSCOW, October 19 - RIA Novosti. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, during a briefing with his Ukrainian counterpart Andrei Taran, accused Russia of starting the war in Donbass . He is quoted by the UNIAN agency .
"Let's clearly say that Russia started this war, and Russia is the stone that hinders a peaceful settlement," the head of the Pentagon said.
He also noted that Russia "began to violate the territorial integrity and sovereignty" of Ukraine . In addition, Austin promised Kiev support in protecting the country.
Relations between Moscow and Kiev deteriorated after the reunification of Crimea with Russia and against the backdrop of the armed conflict in Donbass. The Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly accused Russia of interfering in the internal affairs of the state, and in January 2015 they officially declared it an "aggressor country." Western countries supported Kiev in the confrontation with Moscow and imposed sanctions against it.
The Kremlin has repeatedly stressed that it is not involved in the internal Ukrainian conflict and is not a subject of the Minsk agreements. At the same time, Dmitry Kozak , the deputy head of the Russian presidential administration, said that Moscow would be forced to protect the residents of Donbass if the Ukrainian security forces begin the mass destruction of the region's population.