Millennium Post

Ukraine fighting has intensified to pre-truce levels: NATO

The fighting between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine has intensified to levels that preceded the September ceasefire deal, NATO’s top military commander General Philip Breedlove said.

“The fighting has intensified to pre-agreement, pre-stand down levels and in some cases beyond,” Breedlove told reporters in Brussels, referring to the largely ineffective ceasefire agreed in Minsk.

Ukrainian officials said on Thursday that 41 soldiers and civilians were killed in 24 hours after conceding that government forces were forced to abandon Donetsk airport, the symbolic prize of a nine-month war with the separatists.

“The Russian-backed forces have renewed capabilities,” Breedlove said. “In some places they moved the line of contact to the west.”

When asked if more Russian troops were observed in eastern Ukraine, he replied: “We are beginning to see the signatures of air defence systems and electronic war defence systems that have accompanied Russian troops in the past.”

But he could not confirm figures given by Ukraine’s pro-western president Petro Poroshenko who said Wednesday there were now 9,000 Russian troops in the east of the former Soviet republic.
Breedlove added that NATO was “unable to confirm the presence of additional troops in Ukraine” at this stage.

“There have been two instances where we’ve had Russian troops across the border” in Ukraine, Breedlove said.

Then “we had the presence of certain types of air defence and other capabilities in eastern Ukraine,” he said.

“We see the same as types of equipment in eastern Ukraine now.”

Poroshenko stressed Wednesday there was no military solution to the brutal nine-month conflict that has killed more than 4,800 people and brought Ukraine’s economy to its knees.

But he insisted that the key to peace was held by Russia a country that has firmly denied supporting the insurgents despite NATO satellite imagery purporting to show its forces’ presence in Ukraine.



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