The Asian Age

Ukraine slams Rus­sia over di­rect ag­gres­sion

Kiev pulls back from de­fend­ing key air­port

- RICHARD BALM­FORTH and PAVEL POLITYUK

Ukraine’s mil­i­tary said on Mon­day it had pulled its forces back from de­fend­ing a vi­tal air­port in the east against Rus­sian tanks, as Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko ac­cused Moscow of “di­rect and open ag­gres­sion”.

The with­drawal from the civil­ian air­port out­side the city of Luhansk was the lat­est in a string of re­verses for Ukrainian forces fight­ing pro- Rus­sian sep­a­ratists who Kiev says have the di­rect support of hun­dreds of Rus­sian troops and ar­mour.

A mil­i­tary state­ment said Ukrainian para­troop­ers were en­gag­ing a Rus­sian tank bat­tal­ion near the air­port. A while later spokesman An­driy Ly­senko said: “In the Luhansk di­rec­tion, Ukrainian forces have re­ceived an or­der and have pulled back from the air­port.”

Mr Poroshenko, speak­ing at a mil­i­tary academy in Kiev, said Rus­sia’s di­rect in­volve­ment in Kiev’s war against the sep­a­ratists in east­ern Ukraine had tipped the bal­ance on the bat­tle­field and was the main rea­son for re­cent set­backs. “Di­rect and open ag­gres­sion has been launched against Ukraine from a neigh­bour­ing state. This has changed the sit­u­a­tion in the zone of con­flict in a rad­i­cal way,” he said.

There would be changes in the mil­i­tary top brass be­cause of the events of last week, Mr Poroshenko added, re­fer­ring to the mil­i­tary re­verses.

Moscow de­nies help­ing the rebels, who have set up “peo­ple’s republics” in the Rus­sian- speak­ing east of Ukraine and say they want to be part of the “Rus­sian world” rather than a coun­try which seeks in­te­gra­tion into main­stream Europe. Ly­senko said Ukrainian forces had de­stroyed seven Rus­sian tanks near the air­port and had iden­ti­fied a ma­jor build- up of Rus­sian forces to the north and south of Luhansk, to the rear of Ukrainian lines. “Ac­cord­ing to our op­er­a­tional data, there are no fewer than four ( Rus­sian) bat­tal­ion- tac­ti­cal groups in Ukraine,” Mr Ly­senko told re­porters.

Each one com­prised 400 men, he said. Sep­a­ratists, who Kiev says were backed

 ?? — AFP ?? Rus­sian cadets of the Su­vorov mil­i­tary school at­tend a cer­e­mony to mark the start of the aca­demic year in Rus­sia and many coun­tries of the for­mer Soviet Union in Saint Peters­burg, Rus­sia, on Mon­day.
— AFP Rus­sian cadets of the Su­vorov mil­i­tary school at­tend a cer­e­mony to mark the start of the aca­demic year in Rus­sia and many coun­tries of the for­mer Soviet Union in Saint Peters­burg, Rus­sia, on Mon­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India