Russian Accused Of Deploying Troops

rwailwayUkrainian President Petro-Poroshenko has cancelled a visit to Turkey, citing “Russian troop deployments” in the east of the country.

His announcement came as pro-Russia rebels took the coast town of Novoazovsk and threatened the strategic port city of Mariupol. Russia said no forces were crossing Ukraine’s border “at any point”.

At least 2,119 people have been killed since fighting erupted in April between Ukrainian forces and separatists.

The latest rebel successes constitute the opening of a new front in the conflict.

Yesterday, Mr Poroshenko said his place was in Kiev in view of the deterioration in the situation in Donetsk region.

“I have made a decision to cancel my working visit to the Republic of Turkey due to the sharp aggravation of the situation in Donetsk region… as Russian troops were actually brought into Ukraine,” Mr Poroshenko said in a statement.

He added that he was calling a meeting of the Ukrainian security council, and that Ukraine would initiate an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the crisis.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said Russia had “unleashed a war in Europe” and said the world should take “effective steps”.

A Nato official said he believed there were more than 1,000 Russian troops operating inside Ukraine, both supporting the separatists and fighting on their side.

But Russia’s envoy at the Organisation for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE), Andrey Kelin, denied there were any Russian troops.

Government forces had made significant advances against the separatists in recent weeks, but these gains seem in doubt with rebels now operating in two distinct areas of Donetsk region.

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said that Russia has been sending troops and equipment to the rebels, but Russia has denied arming or covertly supporting them.

Separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko told Russian TV that 3-4,000 Russian citizens were fighting in their ranks.

He said many of the Russians were former service-people or current service personnel on leave, insisting that all were volunteers.

Ukraine’s security and defence council confirmed reports that Novoazovsk had been captured by the rebels, whom they described as “Russian troops”.

It said it had withdrawn its forces to save lives, and that Ukrainian soldiers were now reinforcing Mariupol’s defences.

A Ukrainian company commander, Vladimir Shilov, told Ukrainian TV that he had heard from sources inside the town that it was blocked by tanks and no-one was allowed to leave. Local officials had already fled to Mariupol, he added.

A spokesman for the rebels told Interfax news agency that Novoazovsk was under their control and they would soon “liberate” Mariupol.

Reports on Twitter suggested the rebels were already advancing towards Mariupol, and separatists said they had captured checkpoints to the west of the city.

The port has until now been peaceful and cut off from rebel positions. — BBC


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