Sunday

26th Feb 2017

Germany and US voice concern on Russian troops in Ukraine

Germany and the US have lent weight to Ukraine’s claim that Russian troops are directly involved in opening up a new front in the conflict.

The fresh Western concern comes after Andriy Lysenko, a Ukrainian army spokesman, told press in Kiev on Wednesday (26 August) that Russian soldiers took part in a rebel attack on the town of Novoazovsk, near Crimea, in south-east Ukraine.

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.

He added that Russian soldiers and armoured vehicles also crossed the border further north, near the Ukrainian town of Amrosievka.

Steffen Seibert, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, said Merkel called Russian leader Vladimir Putin the same day to ask him if it is true.

“The latest reports of the presence of Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory must be explained. She emphasised Russia's major responsibility for de-escalation and for watching over its own frontiers”, his statement said.

The Kremlin’s communique on the Merkel call said nothing on the subject, however.

Instead, it “announced the intention of the Russian side to provide new supplies of humanitarian aid to Luhansk and Donetsk” - two rebel-held areas where Russian "aid" trucks recently came and went without approval from Ukraine or the Red Cross.

The US was more explicit.

Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman, told media in Washington on Wednesday that “these [new] incursions indicate a Russian-directed counteroffensive is likely underway in Donetsk and Luhansk”.

She added: “Russia is sending its young men into Ukraine … We also note reports of wounded Russian soldiers in a St. Petersburg hospital and that other Russian soldiers are returning home to Russia for burial”.

Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine, said on Thursday morning: “An increasing number of Russian troops are intervening directly in fighting on Ukrainian territory. Russia … is now directly involved in the fighting”.

Wednesday’s developments come after Russia and Ukraine agreed to revive peace talks on Tuesday and ahead of an EU summit on Friday.

They also come at a decisive moment in military terms.

Ukrainian forces have encircled pro-Russia rebels in Luhansk and Donetsk. But if they do not score a decisive victory before October, when bad weather begins to set in, the fighting will be frozen until spring, giving the pro-Russia side a chance to dig in.

The coming winter is also raising the stakes on the gas side of the conflict.

Russia has stopped deliveries to Ukraine in a price dispute while promising to keep pumping gas to EU clients via Ukraine's pipelines.

On Wednesday, Ukraine’s PM, Arseniy Yatseniuk, told a government meeting that “we [Ukraine] know of Russia's plans to block [gas] transit even to European Union countries this winter”.

But Russian energy minister Alexander Novak denied the allegations.

“We can qualify them only as absolutely baseless speculations aimed at confusing or deliberately misinforming of European consumers of Russian gas”, he said.

Russia relaxes EU food ban, counts costs

Russia has said its ban on EU food imports will cost it “hundreds of billions of rubles”, while taking several items off the blacklist.

Ukraine says Russian invasion has begun

Ukrainian president Poroshenko has said Russian forces have invaded his country, with Kiev calling for an emergency EU and UN meeting.

News in Brief

  1. Spanish court jails former IMF chief Rato
  2. Macron proposes Nordic-style economic model for France
  3. Germany posts record high budget surplus
  4. Labour ousts Ukip in Brexit homeland
  5. Dutch lower house approves EU-Ukraine treaty
  6. WTO says Russian pork ban was illegal
  7. Belgian nuclear plant made 'significant progress' on safety
  8. Report: Commission gauging EU support for Poland sanctions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EURORDISJoin Rare Disease Day and Help Advocate for More Research on Rare Diseases
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  3. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  4. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  5. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  6. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  7. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  9. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  10. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  12. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations