Rocket attacks and peace-deal violations fuel concerns
Military authorities in Ukraine believe the number of Russian troops within and close to its borders has risen to more than 50,000, raising fears of a substantial escalation in the conflict raging in Ukraine’s eastern regions.
Almost 9,000 Russian Federation Armed Forces personnel are believed to be based inside Ukraine, according to reports from the country’s National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) seen by The Independent on Sunday. The rest are based in the neighbouring Rostov region of Russia, including mechanised assault units and communications command systems.
President Petro Poroshenko has told MPs the military must prepare to defend against a possible “full-scale invasion” from Russia, amid a surge of violence in eastern Ukraine.
Russia has denied that its military is involved in Ukraine, but Mr Poroshenko said 9,000 of its troops were deployed.
Clashes involving tanks took place in two areas west of Donetsk on Wednesday.
There was a “colossal threat” that large-scale fighting would resume, the president told parliament in Kiev. Continue reading
The Russian-backed separatists are reportedly firing artillery at the airport grounds that are controlled by Ukrainian government troops. Five government soldiers and some rebels died in the fighting, according to Ukraine’s Defense Council, and there were additional reports of civilian casualties on Wednesday.
Ongoing clashes in Donetsk, where the separatists say they have established an independent “People’s Republic,” violate the ceasefire agreement reached last month in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Both sides agreed to put down arms and release prisoners.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said this week that the rebel offensive could derail the ceasefire
Donald Jensen, resident fellow at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Transatlantic Relations, said in an interview that the Russian-backed rebels in some ways never intended to comply with the ceasefire. Still, Russian President Vladimir Putin might want to maintain a frozen conflict and not push for more territory in Ukraine. Continue reading
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization will set up a special unit to help combat terrorism, amid the increasing threat of terrorist activities facing China and Central Asia.
“Many terrorists who carried out deadly attacks in China watched or listened to video or audio files online with extremist ideological content, but such materials are produced or uploaded outside China,” Zhang Xinfeng, director of the Eurasian grouping’s regional anti-terrorist structure executive committee, said at its headquarters in Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan.
“The regional anti-terrorist structure decided to set up a special unit at the end of 2013 to deal with the new situation.” Continue reading
IZYUM (Ukraine) (AFP) – Ukraine pushed tanks toward a flashpoint eastern city on Tuesday to quash a separatist surge backed by Moscow — a high-risk operation that was sharply condemned by the Kremlin but won Washington’s support.
The 20 tanks and armoured personnel carriers were the most forceful response yet by the Western-backed government in Kiev to the pro-Kremlin militants’ occupation of state buildings in nearly 10 cities across Ukraine’s rust belt.
Ukrainian forces set up a cement road barrier and began checking traffic leading to Slavyansk while fighters and attack helicopters circled overhead. Continue reading