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Worsening of situation in Donbas to lead to further sanctions against Russia - U.S. State Department

The U.S. is concerned about by reports of new attacks by combined Russian and separatist forces on Ukrainian positions in Maryinka, Shyrokyne, and northeast of Mariupol.

This deterioration of the situation and further violation of the Minsk agreements could lead to new sanctions against Russia, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said during a daily press briefing on Thursday.

" Russia bears direct responsibility for these aggressive actions by combined Russian-separatist forces, which are unacceptable and contravene those agreements. Any attempts to seize additional Ukrainian territory will be met with increased cost [for Russia] ... The sanctions have a negative impact on Russia's economy and should be continued and strengthened in the case of deterioration of the situation," the representative of the U.S. State Department said.

He also noted that Washington was closely following the situation in Ukraine and the Russian troops stayed there.

"We're still trying to gather more information about them. But it is certainly a continuation of the kind of support to Russian separatists that we've seen in the past and, again, another - more violations of international law on Ukrainian territory. We don't have an exact laydown of the separatist forces. But when I say combined separatists, obviously that connotes that there are some Russian force components to it. But it's hard to characterize exactly what that means and how many there are," Kirby said.

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