US slams Russia's move to recognize Ukraine rebel documents

United States Vice President Mike Pence, right, shakes hands with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, left, as Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko looks on, centre, during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. America's commitment to NATO is "unwavering," Pence said Saturday, reassuring allies about the direction the Trump administration might take but leaving open questions about where Washington saw its relationship with the European Union and other international organizations. (Mykola Lazarenko/Presidential Press Service Pool Photo via AP)

MOSCOW — The United States says it is disturbed by Russia's decision to recognize passports and other documents issued by rebel authorities in eastern Ukraine.

The recognition, in an order signed by President Vladimir Putin that was announced Saturday, "is alarming and contradicts the agreed-upon goals of the Minsk Agreement," the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine said Sunday on Twitter, referring to a two-year-old agreement on ending the fighting in eastern Ukraine. Russia was a signatory of the agreement.

More than 9,800 people have been killed in fighting between government forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.

President Donald Trump's repeated statements on improving relations with Russia had led to speculation that Washington would soften its stance on Russia's interference in Ukraine.

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