MONDAY, AUGUST 4, 2014
Hundreds of Ukraine troops cross into Russia
Military says soldiers forced into Russia by rebel fire, while other reports say the troops "abandoned Kiev".
Last updated: 04 Aug 2014 16:57
Each side has accused the other of cross border fire as the Ukraine conflict drags on [EPA]
|More than 400 Ukrainian soldiers have crossed the border into Russia and deserted the Kiev government, according to an Interfax news agency report quoting a border security official.|
Ukraine confirmed the crossing, which happened on Monday, but said the soldiers were forced into Russian territory by rebel fire.
He said the Russian side had opened a safe corridor for the soldiers into Russia. Late on Monday, Malayev said 180 of the troops had since been returned to Ukraine after consultations with Kiev while the rest were deciding what to do next.
The Ukrainian military confirmed that part of a brigade had most likely crossed into Russian territory, although it disputed Russia's version of events and would not say how many soldiers had crossed the border.
A spokesman for the Ukrainian military operation in the east, Oleksiy Dmitrashkovsky, said troops from the army's 72nd brigade were penned into their position and came under a sustained barrage of rocket attacks from separatist forces.
Rebel fighters fired for four hours from multiple heavy weapons, including tanks, mortars, artillery and Grad missile launchers, Dmitrashkovsky said, and eventually the brigade was forced to divide up into two sections to break out.
"One was meant to break out and join forces with a support unit. The other unit had the task of providing fire cover," Dmitrashkovsky said.
"In doing that they fired their weapons until no ammunition remained, after which they abandoned their position and reached a place near a border crossing on Russian territory."
Dmitrashkovsky said it was too early to confirm how many soldiers had crossed into Russia.
"We do not have such information. The Russians are capable of claiming anything they want," he said.
Earlier on Monday, Interfax reported that Russia's air force began military drills in central and western regions of the country, a move that could stir further fears that Russia is ready to flex its military muscle in Ukraine.
The drills will start on Monday and last until Friday, Igor Klimov, air force chief, was reported as saying, and will involve more than 100 fighter jets and helicopters.
Also on Monday, Russia accused Kiev of deploying tactical missile launchers and multiple rocket-launch systems near Donetsk.
"The Ukrainian army keeps concentrating Tochka U rocket systems, as well as Smerch (Tornado) and Uragan (Hurricane multiple-launch rocket systems), near Donetsk," Russian Foreign Ministry said in a written statement.
Meanwhile, Kiev's inhabitants are bracing for chilly morning showers after hot water in the city was shut off on Monday until October in a bid to save gas following Russia's decision to stop supplies.
"All the thermal power plants have had their gas supply cut as of August 4," private firm Kievenergo, which is responsible for providing heating to Ukraine's capital city, said on Monday.
Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have been battling the Kiev government since April, a conflict that has claimed at least 1,129 civilian casualties, according to a UN estimate.
Kiev deploying missile launchers, multiple rocket systems near Donetsk - Moscow
Published time: August 04, 2014 14:00
Edited time: August 04, 2014 16:11
Kiev keeps deploying missile launchers, including SS-21 (Scarab) and multiple rocket systems Uragan and Smerch in Donetsk as it “wants to continue the war” in eastern Ukraine, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“The Ukrainian army continues deploy Tochka U [which NATO refers to as SS-21 or Scarab], Smerch [the BM-30 Tornado] and Uragan [the BM-27] missile complexes to Donetsk. How many more lives will this weapon take? However, the Kiev authorities, it seems, are no longer concerned about the lives of civilians, military and militias. Kiev wants to continue the war,”Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in its statement, which was posted on its website.
Representatives of the Donetsk self-defense forces have also said that the Ukrainian army is“trying to close in on Donetsk, aiming its strikes on Krasnogorovka and Mariynka, which remain under militia control.”
In July, Human Rights Watch accused the Ukrainian army of using Grad missiles to attack densely populated areas in Donetsk.
In its statement, issued July 25, the rights organization said that its “investigation on the ground strongly indicates that Ukrainian government forces were responsible for the attacks that occurred between July 12 and 21,” despite the fact that “Ukrainian government officials and the press service of the National Guard have denied using Grad rockets in Donetsk.”
The ministry stressed that Kiev’s “punitive operation,” which it is carrying out with “the Western regime sponsors’ incitement,” is claiming the lives of innocent civilians and leaving a “significant number of injured.”
“The humanitarian situation is deteriorating in the region,” the Foreign Ministry said. “Despite Russia successive appeals to the Ukrainian authorities and international organizations to take urgent joint action with regard to the humanitarian disaster and sufferings of the people in the southeast of the country, very little has changed there,” it added.
Kiev is also continuing its crackdown on Russian journalists who have come to the region to cover the situation in eastern Ukraine. The ministry was referred in particular to a recent case when Alina Eprimian, a producer for RT’s video agency Ruptly, was deported from the country.
“The reporter was accused of an attempt to destabilize the situation in the country while shooting [her story] at one of the protests against the mobilization [of the Ukrainian army] in Trans-Carpathia,” the ministry said in its statement.
The ministry has stressed the necessity of an “immediate” ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and the“start of negotiations to resolve vital issues of the further state structure of the country.”
The ministerial statement comes as violent clashes are continuing in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
In Ukraine, the town of Pervomaysk, one hotspot in the Lugansk Region, is running out of resources due to heavy shelling. One of the recent attacks, on August 2, left the town without gas and water supplies, and without mobile phone connections. Hospital and kindergartens buildings were also damaged.
On the same day a school in Donetsk was targeted, killing one man and one woman.
“In Donbass, an exchange of prisoners and bodies of killed took place between the militias and the Ukrainian security forces. According to militia representatives, the bodies of three out of 12 victims showed signs of torture. In addition, most of the prisoners from militia units had broken bones and all the internal organs were damaged,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Meanwhile, the number of refugees seeking asylum in Russia is growing.
According to information issued Saturday by Russian authorities, “there are 39,265 people, including 12,735 children, living in 537 temporary shelters.”
The UN has estimated that at least 100,000 people have been forcibly displaced since the conflict in Eastern Ukraine began.
Russian news channels have just shown footage of 438 Ukrainian officers, NCOs and soldiers who have surrendered to Russian forces in the Rostov region. They had requested safe passage, which was granted to them, and they abandoned their weapons and crossed the border. They appeared exhausted and weak and they were immediately washed, given dry clothes and, when needed, provided medical treatment by the Russian military. Those who made the request (so far about 180) were then bussed back to the Ukraine while the rest have been given temporary accommodations in a tent city built by the Russian military. According to the Russian Border Guard Service, many more Ukrainian servicemen are currently negotiating their surrender in similar terms. The Russian side has already declared that every man will be given the choice to be returned to the Ukraine or remain in Russia and that nobody will be forcibly repatriated or detained.
As I have recently mentioned in a post, I strongly believe that these Ukrainians deserve to be treated with compassion and kindness as they were used as canon-fodder by the junta in Kiev. There is, of course, a sweet irony that the very same folks who recently were waving Ukie flags and promising to fight the evil Moskals are now seeking refuge with the very same Moskals, but the Russians are right not to rob it in. Let the Ukies draw their own conclusions.
First, there was the announcement that Russia’s Defense Ministry will hold drills for reservists in all of the country’s military commands in August-October. Now comes yet another announcement, this time that Russia's will be holding military exercises this week involving 100 aircraft in the west of the country near the Ukraine border. This kind of activity does not mean that Russia is saber-rattling or somehow threatening anybody, much less so getting ready for war with NATO. But, yes, Russia is definitely muddying the waters.
Such exercises are primarily designed to test the readiness of the armed forces, and it is quite possible that this is indeed their main goal this time, but one important side effect of such activity is to overwhelm the surveillance capabilities of the US/NATO by basically putting up so much activity on the US/NATO monitoring screens that something important could be easily hidden. What exactly?
Well, the preparations from some kind of military move, of course. Though I personally do not believe that Russia will move into the Donbass at this point. Also, this kind of activity could be used to increase covert aid and even covert intervention. Another option is to use this kind of "noise" to change the disposition of Russian forces. Whatever may be the case, we can be pretty sure that the Russians are trying to give the US/NATO somewhat of a headache and to make them wonder what exactly Russia is up to.