Ukraine accuses Russia of firing on its positions

World -

Russia and Ukraine continue military and political posturing as tensions remain high between the neighboring nations.

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Copyright 2014 Reuters
Copyright 2014 Reuters

A spokesman for the Ukrainian Security Council July 21 accused Russia of continuing to supply separatists in Ukraine with weapons, of amassing more troops on the border, and firing directly on Ukrainian positions.

"The tactic of the Russian saboteurs is as follows: first the terrorists start shelling empty Russian territories from Ukraine, as a response to that Russian military shells Ukrainian army positions. Under the cover of intensive shelling, the weaponry is transported to the Ukrainian territory." Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman, National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine

On July 14, NATO estimated Russia had amassed 10,000-12,000 troops along its border with Ukraine. A NATO military officer told Reuters that Russia has been rebuilding its forces along the border since withdrawing most by mid-June. Several units were reported to be moving along the border in the past week.

Ukraine's defense minister said July 14 that a military transport plane had been shot down near the eastern border with Russia. Some 20 people were thought to be on board. Pro-Russian rebels claimed responsibility, but Ukraine said the plane was flying too high to be reached by separatist weapons and suggested the rocket was launched from Russia.

"In the past three days a new Russian missile system has been used against the armed forces of Ukraine… Information has also been confirmed that Russian staff officers are taking part in military operations against Ukrainian forces." Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

Poroshenko made the allegation July 14, but it wasn't clear what missile system he was referring to. Three days later a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane, with 298 aboard, was brought down by a missile.

Russia reported July 13 that a shell was fired across the border from Ukraine, killing a Russian man. Russia threatened "irreversible consequences" after the incident, which was the first time the country had reported a fatality on its side of the border. Hundreds of Ukrainians have been killed in cross-border skirmishes.

"We have many examples of terrorists carrying out provocation shooting, including into Russian territory, and then accusing Ukrainian forces of it." Andriy Lysenko, Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council spokesman

Ukraine's national security spokesman said Russia's allegations were "total nonsense and the information is untrue." Pro-Russian separatists also denied responsibility.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced a 14-step plan to de-escalate the conflict June 18, along with a temporary ceasefire. The plan called for more security on the Ukraine-Russia border. Poroshenko briefed Russian President Vladimir Putin, who wanted the ceasefire extended and called for Ukraine to hold talks with separatists.

Russian President Vladimir Putin asked the Federation Council to revoke his authority to invade Ukraine June 24. Putin had been granted the authority after submitting a request in late February, at the height of the crisis in Crimea. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called it a "first practical step."

"[Putin and Poroshenko] discussed a series of priority measures that must be undertaken to implement a ceasefire, as well as the most efficient ways to monitor it." Office of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

After a phone call with Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin on June 18, both sides said that a ceasefire had been discussed. Russia's Interfax news service quoted Poroshenko as saying he had already offered a plan that included a "unilateral ceasefire" in eastern Ukraine, but that has not yet been confirmed by either government.

A total of 600 U.S. troops will spend a month carrying out military exercises in Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania amid tensions between Ukraine and Russia, the Pentagon said April 22. On June 3, President Obama announced a pledge of $1 billion to boost the U.S. military presence in Europe.

The White House released a statement on March 28 that Russian President Putin called President Obama to discuss a diplomatic solution to the situation in Ukraine. Obama urged Putin to pull back his troops from Ukraine's border and reiterated that the U.S. opposes actions violating Ukraine's sovereignty.

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