Kiev [Ukraine], February 18 (ANI): Russia's shelling of Stanytsia Luhanska in Ukrainian government-controlled territory in Donbas hit a kindergarten, injured two teachers, and knocked out power in the village, the US Embassy in Kiev informed on Thursday.
"Russia's shelling of Stanytsia Luhanska in Ukrainian government-controlled territory in Donbas hit a kindergarten, injured two teachers, and knocked out power in the village. The aggressor in Donbas is clear - Russia," tweeted US Embassy in Kiev.
"This attack, as with so many others, is a heinous Russian violation of the Minsk Agreements and again demonstrates Russia's disregard for Ukrainian civilians on both sides of the line of contact," added the embassy.
Despite Russia's claims to be pulling forces back from Ukraine's borders, shelling has raised tensions.
Russia's recent build-up of around 150,000 troops just over the border from the Donbas region in the east, in Belarus to the north and Crimea to the south, which began in the autumn, has escalated tensions.
Russia claims the surge of forces has always been for military exercises and that it poses no threat to Ukraine or any other nation, but has refused to offer any real explanation for the biggest build-up of military might in Europe since the Cold War.
Defense officials in Moscow have said since Tuesday that troops and military hardware are pulling back, having completed some of the drills. Western intelligence officials say, on the contrary, that Russia has moved roughly 7,000 more troops close to the borders in recent days.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration said, "Evidence on the ground" showed Russia was "moving toward an imminent invasion" of its neighbour.
"We have reason to believe that they are engaged in a false-flag operation to have an excuse to go in," US President Joe Biden told reporters on Thursday. "Every indication we have is they are prepared to go into Ukraine, attack Ukraine."
The United States and its NATO partners have dismissed Moscow's assertions of an initial force drawdown along Ukraine's northern, eastern and southern borders, saying that President Vladimir Putin's military appears instead to be bolstering troop numbers.
America and its allies have also warned for weeks that Russia could try to stage a "false-flag" incident -- including a faked attack by Ukrainian forces on the rebels in Donbas -- to use as a pretext to invade Ukraine.
Russia's 2014 invasion led to Putin's unilateral annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. Ceasefire agreements signed in 2014 and 2015, known as the Minsk Accords, halted large-scale combat but the war has simmered for almost eight years, leaving 14,000 people dead, according to Ukraine's government. (ANI)