Russian military forces haven’t budged from the border of eastern Ukraine despite an international pact meant to quell unrest in the fragile region, U.S. Defense officials said.
About 40,000 troops appeared in battle-ready formation Friday, as combat forces, special operations teams and airborne paratroopers were joined by rocket launchers, choppers and other aircraft, the senior defense official told NBC News.
NATO leaders have previously called for Russia to pull back its military presence as a way to build dialogue with Ukraine’s Western-backed government.
Then, on Thursday, diplomats from the U.S., Russia, Ukraine and the European Union called for the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine who have seized government buildings to give up and lay down their weapons. In exchange, Ukraine has agreed to offer amnesty to protesters who aren’t found guilty of committing capital crimes.
The protesters have so far given no indication that they will comply — unless the Ukrainian government resigns.
Defense officials, meanwhile, have no illusions the “crisis” in Ukraine is over, but the agreement struck Thursday “buys everyone a little time,” the senior official said.