Monday

30th May 2016

EU and US voice concern on reports of Russian tanks in Ukraine

  • The pro-Russia camp in Donetsk is a copy of the old pro-EU camp in Kiev (Photo: dasjo)

The EU and US have urged Russia to stop arming Ukraine rebels after Ukraine said Russian tanks and artillery crossed the border on Thursday (12 June).

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Ukraine’s new leader, Petro Poroshenko, told him about the tanks in a phonecall.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“It is very important that Russia ceases any kind of military actions in this area,” Barroso noted in a statement.

Jen Psaki, the US State Department spokeswoman, told press in Washington: “If these latest reports [on tanks] are true, which I don’t have confirmation of, this incursion marks a serious and disturbing escalation.”

The US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, on Friday morning gave credence to Poroshenko’s report.

He tweeted a link to video footage showing tanks rolling down a street in rebel-held east Ukraine, adding: “Kremlin! Tanks in Donetsk – this is your 'humanitarian assistance' to Ukraine?”.

The escalation comes as the EU and Ukraine prepare to sign a free trade treaty on 27 June which will legally bind Ukraine to stay out of Russia’s Eurasian Union.

The EU and US say they will impose economic sanctions on Russia if it does not cease hostilities in the run-up to the date.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Poroshenko also spoke by phone on Thursday in what Barroso called a “positive step”.

Meanwhile, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told press he has his own reports that Ukraine is using phosphorous bombs, which are banned by the UN.

He said Russia is to file a UN Security Council resolution calling on Ukraine to stop fighting the rebels.

But the US spokeswoman, Psaki, dismissed the move. She told the Washington press corps: “We find it hypocritical for the Russian leadership to call for an end to violence or call on the Ukrainians to take these steps when Russian separatists are abetting the violence and bringing weapons illegally into the country.”

Speaking in a separate interview with Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine, German defence minister Ursula Von der Leyen noted that Putin and Lavrov statements carry less weight than they used to.

“Vladimir Putin has destroyed an enormous amount of trust with his conduct ... Currently, Russia is not a partner. Partners adhere to joint agreements”, she said.

She noted that Germany is contributing to an increase in Nato's military presence in former Iron Curtain members: “President Putin knows that Nato stands solidly behind its eastern members. That's why he won't touch the sovereignty or integrity of these countries.”

The EU’s Barroso spoke on Ukraine while on a tour of three other former Soviet republics which are building closer EU ties.

On Wednesday and Thursday he visited Moldova and Georgia, which are to sign EU trade treaties along with Ukraine, and on Friday he went to Azerbaijan, which is to supply gas for an EU pipeline bypassing Russia.

He said the EU is spending €131 million on support for visa-free travel, energy reform, and rural development in Moldova this year. It has also doubled tariff-free import quotas on Moldovan fruit and vegetables.

He noted that closer EU ties can “benefit” Transniestria - a Russian-occupied breakaway region - if Transniestria puts “the right dispositions” in place.

With Russia threatening trade sanctions on Moldova if it signs the EU pact, Barroso added: “I call upon Russia to take advantage of the new opportunities and not to take punitive measures … There is no economic reason nor legal justification for such behaviour.”

News in Brief

  1. Hungary reinforces fence on Serbian border
  2. Juncker to seek renewed backing for TTIP talks
  3. EP president rules out return to German politics
  4. Austrian far-right wants to probe election fraud accusations
  5. Irish PM warns Brexit could bring back border controls
  6. Truckmakers risk record cartel fine
  7. London mayor teams up with British PM on Brexit
  8. Syrian refugees sue Denmark over immigration law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCAEducation and Training 2020 - Giving Young People the Workplace Skills They Need
  2. EPSUTrade Unions Back New Undeclared Work Platform
  3. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCould targeting children’s fitness boost academic performance?
  4. World VisionDeclares the World Humanitarian Summit a Positive Step in a Longer Journey to Ending Need
  5. EJCPresident Dr. Moshe Kantor on Brexit and the Jewish Question
  6. Swedish EnterprisesNew rules for posted workers - Better Protection or the End of Posting ?
  7. World VisionWhy The EU Needs to Put Children at the Centre of Emergencies - In Their Words
  8. ACCASustainability Reporting in Danger of Losing Its Momentum Says ACCA and CDSB
  9. Dialogue PlatformDiversity as Heritage of Humanity! Join the “Colors of the World“ Show at the EP
  10. Centre Maurits CoppietersNew Responses to the Basque Peace Process? MEP Juaristi on Stateless Challenges Conference
  11. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceImproving Cardiovascular Health Begins by Closing the Gap in Sex Disparities
  12. IPHRBrussels Talks to Take Stock of Human Rights in Turkmenistan

Latest News

  1. Deal with Greece will not work, says Guy Verhofstadt
  2. Greece says it cannot fulfill demands for loans
  3. Juncker agrees to visit Russia in June
  4. Pro-Brexit Tories predict Cameron leadership challenge
  5. Merkel and Hollande pledge unity at Verdun ceremony
  6. Russia mocks ex-Nato chief's new Kiev job
  7. Poland, migration and environment on the agenda THIS WEEK
  8. Does Italy need €14bn of EU budget waivers?