© AP Photo/ Mstyslav Chernov
Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) forces found US-made weapons in airport previously occupied by Ukrainian troops, according to Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic.

Eastern Ukrainian independence forces have found US-made weapons left behind after the Ukrainian military pulled out of an airport they previously occupied in Donetsk, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) said Thursday.

"We found American-produced weaponry. ... So, what do you think when you find an M-16 at the airport?" Alexander Zakharchenko said during a press conference in the republic's capital of Donetsk.

Kiev began a military operation to suppress the independence supporters of southeastern Ukraine in mid-April 2014. On September 5, Kiev forces and the independence fighters of Donetsk and Luhansk reached a ceasefire agreement during a Contact Group meeting in Minsk, Belarus. However, both sides have since accused each other of repeatedly violating the truce.

On Wednesday the deputy chief of the OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine, Alexander Hug, proposed establishing a localized truce in the areas around the Donetsk Airport, where clashes between independence fighters and Kiev forces have intensified in recent days. Later that day, a senior DPR official announced that Kiev forces began withdrawing their troops from the airport's territory.

The United States has supported Kiev from the beginning of the conflict, providing Ukraine with $340 million in aid in 2014. On Tuesday, the US Treasury Department announced the extension of a $1 billion loan guarantee to Kiev for the first part of 2015. The Ukraine Freedom Support Act, signed by US President Barack Obama in mid-December, authorizes the provision of lethal weapons to Ukraine. However, before the document was signed, US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki announced that despite the bill, the country's policy of not arming Ukraine with lethal weapons remained unchanged.