Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.(RIA Novosti / Alexei Druzhinin)
Published time: August 28, 2014 10:27
Edited time: August 28, 2014 14:36
“I think that only among Russians is there a heightened feeling of sorrow and human misfortune, only they are able to travel to any part of the world, die, fight for the independence and freedom of people.” ~ Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic Alexander Zakharchenko
The OSCE was told there was no Russian presence spotted across the Ukraine border, refuting Thursday’s claims that a full-scale invasion was underway. Both the Ukrainian monitoring team head and Russia’s representative have given a firm ‘no.’
The chorus of allegations about Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine had President Poroshenko calling for an emergency meeting of the country’s security and defense council, while Prime Minister Yatsenyuk on Thursday called for a Russian asset freeze.
No actual evidence has been given either by either foreign governments or the media, apart from claims that photographs exist that someone had “seen.”
“I have made a decision to cancel my working visit to the Republic of Turkey due to sharp aggravation of the situation in Donetsk region, particularly in Amvrosiivka and Starobeshevo, as Russian troops were brought into Ukraine,”Petro Poroshenko said in a statement on his website.
The Russian representative to the OSCE Andrey Kelin, meanwhile, has given a firm response to the allegations, saying that “we have said that no Russian involvement has been spotted, there are no soldiers or equipment present.”
“Accusations relating to convoys of armored personnel carriers have been heard during the past week and the week before that,” he said. “All of them were proven false back then, and are being proven false again now.”
Poroshenko, in the meantime, is going to call for a meeting of the UN Security Council. “The world must provide assessment of sharp aggravation of the situation in Ukraine,” he added.
The Ukrainian president added that on Thursday there will be a meeting of the Security and Defense Council of Ukraine to elaborate the plan for further action.
“The President must stay in Kyiv today,” he said.
Given the confusion arising out of the recent capture of Russian paratroopers and the subsequent videos with interviews released by the Ukrainian security services, tensions were easily stoked over Thursday’s supposed invasion. Now, the government is going to the US, EU and the G7 to ask for a freeze on Russian assets until their troops withdraw.
Russian soldiers captured in Ukraine say they ‘were lost’ in Kiev-released video
Members of Ukrainian volunteer battalion Dnipro stand as they patrol near the small southern Ukrainian city of Novoazovsk, Donetsk region, on August 27, 2014.(AFP Photo / Alexander Khudoteply)
Meanwhile, the OSCE has announced that it’s calling an emergency meeting in Vienna – for the second time in August.
When the head of its Ukraine mission, Paul Picard, was asked if the monitoring team saw any evidence of Russia crossing the border with troops and tanks, the answer was “no.” He told journalists of round-the-clock surveillance by a team of 16 people. The team said “we are hearing shooting, but it’s difficult to tell just how far.”
This didn’t stop the Ukrainian government from alleging that the border town of Novoazovsk in the south-east has fallen under Russian control – a mix of troops and members of the eastern-Ukrainian uprising.
Ukraine’s own representative to the OSCE, Ihor Prokopchuk also said that “what we registered was a direct invasion of the Russian military into the eastern regions of Ukraine… an act of aggression.”
For his part, Russian envoy Kelin said“We only know that the mayor of Novoazovsk said that after 10 rounds of artillery were heard, the Ukrainian soldiers retreated from the city, and the self-defense forces entered,”.
He added that “the Ukrainian ambassador has offered no claims to counter this information.”
The Western media has been exploding with allegations, with everyone from the CNN to the New York Times going about the task in a very similar manner: quoting Ukrainian politicians’ views on Russia, as well as US figures, the ambassador to Ukraine and the State Department. One similarity could be spotted: they all centered on passionate statements – no evidence – and were followed by a big background into things that took place over the past week.
Whenever there was any mention of someone actually seeing Russian tanks, it seemed a mobile phone was never on hand to take a photograph.
Only Russian volunteers fighting with anti-Kiev forces – Donetsk Republic leader
Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic Alexander Zakharchenko.(RIA Novosti / Mikhail Voskresenskiy)
About 3-4,000 Russian citizens joined anti-government fighters during Kiev crackdown in Ukraine’s east, says the leader of Donetsk independent republic, noting that self-defense fighters have never concealed this fact.
“They [Russian volunteers] are among us, people of Donbass [Region, eastern Ukraine] because we are blood brothers,” said the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, in an interview to Russian media.
“There is no secret that among the volunteers from Russia there are many military men. They are fighting together with us because they understand that it’s their duty,” he added.
According to the Donetsk PM, some of the volunteers returned home to Russia, others stayed in eastern Ukraine.
“Unfortunately, some of [the Russian volunteers] were killed,” said Zakharchenko.
He explained why he thinks Russian volunteers are joining self-defense forces in eastern Ukraine.
“I think that only among Russians is there a heightened feeling of sorrow and human misfortune, only they are able to travel to any part of the world, die, fight for the independence and freedom of people.”
Men near the destroyed checkpoint “Dolzhansky” in Lugansk region.(RIA Novosti / Mikhail Voskresenskiy)
He added that Russian volunteers prefer “to spend their summer holidays not at the seaside, but among their brothers who are fighting for the freedom of Donbass [Region, eastern Ukraine].”
Zakharchenko said that Kiev authorities and Western countries are repeatedly talking about a Russian ‘military invasion’ to justify the mass defeats of the Ukrainian army in the country’s east.
Since Kiev launched its ‘anti-terrorist’ operation against eastern Ukrainian regions in April, Ukraine has faced a violent internal conflict and humanitarian catastrophe.
United Nations data released Tuesday, over 2,249 people have so far been killed and over 6,033 wounded in the fighting in eastern Ukraine. The number of internally-displaced Ukrainians has reached 190,000, with another 207,000 finding refuge in Russia, the UN said.
Over 60 Ukrainian troops cross into Russia seeking refuge
A group of 62 Ukrainian troops have crossed into Russia’s Rostov Region seeking shelter to save their lives amid an intensified counteroffensive recently launched by anti-Kiev militia in southeastern Ukraine.
“Today, 62 servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces turned to Russian border guards asking to let them into the Russian territory near Russia’s settlement of Shramko, Matveyevo-Kurgansky district, with the aim to save their lives,” the spokesman for the FSB’s border guard office in the Rostov Region, Nikolay Sinitsyn, told Itar-Tass news agency on Wednesday.
They were allowed to cross and provided with a transit corridor on the principles of humanism, but only after they left their weapons on the Ukrainian side of the border, Sinitsyn added.
This case became the latest in a series of similar incidents where a total of over 500 Ukrainian troops crossed into Russia since July seeking refuge and medical help.
Earlier this week, Ukraine released videos showing alleged Russian paratroopers captured on Ukrainian territory. Russian Defense Ministry sources were saying that they probably crossed the border by mistake during a routine patrol of an area which wasn’t manned. President Putin, when asked about the issue said he hoped it won’t be blown out of proportion, since Ukrainian troops regularly cross into Russian territory, sometimes in armored vehicles and were never charged with anything and always allowed to return to Ukraine freely.
Kiev’s renewed accusations of Russian military’s alleged operations on Ukrainian territory are “nothing new,” says Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, adding that Russia regularly refutes such reports. Meanwhile Kiev says it has launched a preliminary investigation into the detained men on suspicion of “aiding terrorist groups.”
This combination of handout pictures released by Ukrainian security service (SBU) press service on August 26, 2014 purportedly shows Russian paratroopers captured by Ukrainian forces near the village of Dzerkalne, Donetsk region (AFP Photo / SBU Press-Service / Str)
Ukraine’s own troops in the meantime are also facing prosecution, with General Prosecutor’s office announcing on Wednesday that 1,083 criminal proceeding had been launched since the beginning of the so-called anti-terrorist operation, with people being charged for “disobedience, unauthorized abandonment of a military unit or place of service, desertion, evasion of military service in another way, and so on.”
Anti-Kiev militia in the meantime announced that almost 90 Ukrainian troops laid down their arms and surrendered on Wednesday alone, following at least 129 the day before, Ria reports.
On Sunday, the main headquarters of the Donetsk People’s Republic announced that it had launched a counteroffensive against Kiev’s “punitive forces” in the region, blocking and surrounding many of the military and paramilitary units.
The military equipment captured from local army depots and those forces surrendering en masse has allowed militia to form 2 tank battalions, 3 multiple launcher rocket system batteries, 2 self-propelled howitzer batteries, 3 cannon battalions of various calibers and 8 mortar batteries, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Donetsk People’s Republic Aleksander Zakharchenko told the press at the time.