Ukraine re­ports a heavy tank bat­tle against pro-Rus­sians

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Ukraine on Mon­day re­ported re­pelling a rare tank as­sault by pro-Rus­sian rebels that threat­ened to usher in a dan­ger­ous es­ca­la­tion to the 16-month war.

Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko said about “200 in­sur­gents used tanks to storm” No­volaspa — a vil­lage half-way be­tween the sep­a­ratists’ de facto cap­i­tal Donetsk and the Kiev-held port of Mar­i­upol — in a pre-dawn raid that caught gov­ern­ment sol­diers off guard.

Chief of Staff Gen­eral Vik­tor Muzhenko “in­formed the pres­i­dent that the Ukrainian forces gave a fit­ting re­buff and re­pelled all the at­tacks,” the pres­i­dency said.

The Ukrainian for­eign min­istry called the in­ci­dent “a dan­ger­ous in­di­ca­tion of a fur­ther es­ca­la­tion to come.”

But the rebels de­nied ad­vanc­ing their forces and sig­naled that they had al­ways had mili­tia units sta­tioned in No­volaspa.

“The armed forces of Ukraine sim­ply put the vil­lage un­der a heavy shelling at­tack,” a lo­cal sep­a­ratist of­fi­cial told the rebels’ main news site.

“No­volaspa re­mains un­der the con­trol of the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic of Donetsk.”

Kiev on Mon­day re­ported the death of one soldier while the in­sur­gents ac­cused gov­ern­ment forces of killing a civil­ian in the rebel-held bas­tion of Gor­livka.

Poroshenko sub­se­quently called in the head of Ukraine’s na­tional se­cu­rity ser­vice and de­fence min­is­ter along with the top army gen­eral to forge a re­sponse to “the rise in the num­ber of at­tacks, par­tic­u­larly those us­ing ar­tillery fire, by the Rus­sianter­ror­ist forces,” his of­fice said.

Kiev refers to its eastern cam­paign as an “anti-ter­ror­ist op­er­a­tion” de­signed to quash a re­volt de­vised by the Krem­lin and backed by Rus­sian troops — a charge Moscow res­o­lutely de­nies.

The two self-pro­claimed re­publics of Donetsk and Lu­gansk launched their re­volt shortly af­ter the Fe­bru­ary 2014 ouster of a Moscow- backed pres­i­dent and Rus­sia’s sub­se­quent seizure of Ukraine’s Crimea penin­sula.

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