Ukraine PM says Russia sending troops, tanks to help rebels

As Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian rebels continue to be mired in an intense conflict with heavy artillery fire being exchanged around Donetsk airport, concerns over civilians getting caught up in the crossfire have mounted.

By Supriya Jha | Updated: Jan 20, 2015, 13:24 PM IST
Ukraine PM says Russia sending troops, tanks to help rebels

Kiev: As Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian rebels continue to be mired in an intense conflict with heavy artillery fire being exchanged around Donetsk airport, concerns over civilians getting caught up in the crossfire have mounted.

The international monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have reported a “serious deterioration of the security situation” in the eastern Ukraine, and described the resultant humanitarian situation as "absolutely horrific", as told to the BBC.

 

 

Speaking to the BBC, OSCE spokesman Michael Bociurkiw said there had been a spurt in ceasefire violations in previous days and what was of prime concern was the risk faced by the civilians “especially in and around Donetsk airport”.

"One of our biggest concerns is, of course, the civilians getting caught up in the conflict Fighting is moving further and further into Donetsk city," he said.

"What we've being seeing, very sadly, over the past few days as reported by our monitors is also children being caught up in the conflict - deaths, injuries, the inability to go to school," he added.

Battle for control of the Donetsk airport intensified recently with Ukrainian military forces firing heavy weapons, reportedly because some troops were pinned down there.

Both Ukraine military and rebels claim to have controlled the airport which has been reduced to ruins.

However, it is not just the troops that are involved, the conflict is also proving deadly for civilians as last week an artillery fire on a civilians bus killed a dozen passengers.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk claimed that Russian troops and equipments had been transferred to Ukraine to help pro-Russia rebels, the CNN reported.

“Ukrainian military intelligence confirm the fact military personnel and equipment have been transferred from Russia to Ukraine...Tanks, GRAD multiple rocket systems, BUK and SMERCH systems, radio electronic intelligence systems are not sold at local Donetsk street markets. Only the Russian army and Defense Ministry have them." " the report quoted him as saying.

Russia has been denying Ukraine's claims that it helps pro-Russian rebels with weapons or troops.

Since April last year, when rebels took control of most part of Donetsk and Luhansk, nearly 5000 people have been killed in the violence.

The crisis fomented after Russia annexed Ukraine's southeastern Crimea region in March.