Fears of all-out Ukraine war grow as military vehicles move towards Donetsk

November 10, 2014 | By | Reply More

Nov 10, – New columns of tanks, trucks and heavy artillery have rumbled towards the pro-Moscow rebel stronghold of Donetsk as fears grow of a return to all-out fighting in war-torn eastern Ukraine.

hromedia Fears of all-out Ukraine war grow as military vehicles move towards Donetsk eu news3Meanwhile, a Ukrainian separatist leader met senators in Moscow after elections condemned by the US and the European Union, which warned it could increase sanctions on Russia if the conflict intensifies.

Intense weekend shelling around Donetsk and more armoured columns heading to the city have fuelled concerns the rebels could be gearing up for an offensive after weeks of localised skirmishes.

The West has repeatedly expressed concern at Ukrainian claims that Russian military reinforcements are being sent in, while Moscow denies it is involved in the fighting in the east.

However, it openly gives the rebels political and humanitarian backing and it is not clear how the insurgents could otherwise have access to so much sophisticated and well-maintained weaponry.

The human toll of the conflict rose again on Monday when three civilians and one Ukrainian soldier died as rebel shelling hit a residential area near a Ukrainian checkpoint in the frontline town of Avdiivka, 10 kilometres north of Donetsk. About 4000 people have died in the war since April, according to United Nations figures.

In a sign of closer co-operation between rebels and Moscow, Andrei Purgin, deputy premier of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, visited the Federation Council in Russia’s upper house of parliament on Monday where he advocated the use of roubles in some transactions in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine accused Russia of stepping up efforts to reinforce rebels with arms and supplies, while EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini told German lawmakers that Russia risks new sanctions if it escalates the military conflict.

Mr Purgin’s visit to Russia risks further undermining a September 5 truce that both sides accuse each other of breaching daily. The government in Kiev said November 2 rebel elections violated the pact, a position shared by the US and the EU. Russia has said it respects the ballots and President Vladimir Putin denies meddling in Ukraine.

The conflict, which has prompted the US and the EU to sanction individuals, companies and industries in Russia, has combined with low oil prices to push the country to the verge of its second recession in five years. The central bank in Moscow has said the economy will probably stagnate in 2015.

Speaking in a closed meeting with German lawmakers on Monday, Ms Mogherini said “scaling back or easing sanctions isn’t on the agenda at all right now,” according to Norbert Roettgen, a member of parliament from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, who was present at the meeting. “She made that clear, and further military escalation by Putin will lead to further sanctions.”

The Netherlands, meanwhile, held an emotional ceremony for the 298 victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down in July, focusing the world’s eyes on the conflict in the former Soviet state.

About 1600 relatives and friends of the dead from 18 countries gathered alongside members of the Dutch royal family in Amsterdam.

Among the mourners were Dutch schoolchildren who laid flowers for classmates killed as they set out for their summer holidays on board the doomed flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

“What if the holiday had started a day later? What if the plane had been late? What if I wake up and realise it was all just a dream?” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in his address.

“But there is no what if. Only the harsh reality of 298 ead.”

Ukraine and the West blame Russia for supplying the pro-Kremlin separatists with the missile that shot down the plane, while Moscow and the rebels have pointed the finger at Kiev’s forces.

Press journalist for HRO media – Norberto Lluch reports.

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Category: European Crises

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