Russia’s Investigative Committee said Wednesday it had opened a criminal case against Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak and a number of senior military officials for illegal means of warfare in Donbass.

 

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“The investigation has provided sufficient evidence that unlawful actions were committed against civilians at the orders of Ukraine’s senior military leadership: Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak, Chief of the General Staff Viktor Muzhenko, former Commander of Land Forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Anatoliy Pushnyakov, current Commander of Land Forces of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Sergei Popko, Commander of the National Guard Yuri Allerov,” the Committee said in a statement.

 

Kiev has been conducting a military operation against Donbass independence supporters since spring 2014, when they refused to recognize the new coup-imposed Ukrainian government and declared sovereignty.

 

The Minsk deal on Ukraine’s reconciliation was struck in February 2015 by Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France and later signed by Kiev and the Donbass self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Both warring parties have repeatedly accused each other of violating the truce despite agreeing to the ceasefire deal. The accord stipulates a full ceasefire, weaponry withdrawal from the line of contact in eastern Ukraine, an all-for-all prisoner exchange and constitutional reforms, which would give a special status to the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.