News / Europe

Ukraine's Poroshenko Accuses Russia of 'Open Aggression'

  • Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko watches cadets as they march during Knowledge Day celebrations in Kyiv, Sept. 1, 2014.
  • Ukrainian servicemen ride in an armored vehicle in Kramatorsk, Sept. 1, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian rebel leaders from Eastern Ukraine Andrei Purgin, left, and Alexey Karyakin walk in Minsk, Belarus, Sept. 1, 2014.
  • Russia and Ukraine will be the top story this week when NATO heads of state attend the NATO summit in Wales, starting Wednesday. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen addresses the media ahead of the NATO summit in Wales, at the Residence Palace in
  • First-graders attend a festive ceremony to mark the start of another school year in Slovyansk, Ukraine, Sept. 1, 2014.
  • Schoolgirls talk during morning assembly in a school in the southern coastal town of Mariupol, Ukraine, Sept. 1, 2014.
  • A child looks out of a train window as people who have fled from fighting in the eastern regions of Ukraine arrive at a railway station in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, on their way to a temporary accommodation in local cities and settlements in Siberia, Sept. 1,
  • A Ukrainian military helicopter flies above a military base in the eastern Ukrainian town of Kramatorsk, Sept. 1, 2014.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting on development of the Russian Far East issues in Yakutsk, Russia, Sept. 1, 2014.
  • FILE - Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said talks meant to ease the Ukraine crisis being held in Belarus on Monday should focus on an immediate, unconditional cease-fire between the Kyiv government and separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Developments in Ukraine - Sept. 1, 2014
VOA News

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accused Russia on Monday of “direct and open aggression” against his country.

Speaking at a military academy in Kyiv, he said Russia's direct involvement in the war against the separatists in eastern Ukraine had tipped the balance on the battlefield and was the main reason for recent reversals.

"Direct and open aggression has been launched against Ukraine from a neighboring state. This has changed the situation in the zone of conflict in a radical way," he said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is seen leaving the EU Council building at the end of an EU summit in Brussels, early Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014.British Prime Minister David Cameron is seen leaving the EU Council building at the end of an EU summit in Brussels, early Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014.
British Prime Minister David Cameron is seen leaving the EU Council building at the end of an EU summit in Brussels, early Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014.
British Prime Minister David Cameron is seen leaving the EU Council building at the end of an EU summit in Brussels, early Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014.

Meanwhile in London, British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday called the presence of Russian troops on Ukrainian soil “unjustified and unacceptable.”

"Russia appears to be trying to force Ukraine to abandon its democratic choices at the barrel of a gun," Cameron told parliament, warning Moscow its relationship with the rest of the world would be "radically different" in future if it continued with its current policy on Ukraine.

Separately, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said what is happening in Ukraine should be seen as a war, cautioning that September 1939 not be repeated – a reference to Poland being invaded by Nazi Germany and subsequently attacked by the Soviet Union.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the beginning of World War II, Tusk said there was still time to stop those “for whom violence, force [and] aggression are again becoming an arsenal of political activity.”

NATO forms rapid reaction force

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has announced a new "very high readiness force" in response to what he says is Russian aggression and intervention in Ukraine.

Rasmussen said in Brussels Monday that the force would include several thousand troops ready to go where needed on very short notice. He said they would have air, sea and special forces support.

The force is part of what he called a Readiness Action Plan that would make NATO more agile than ever, and would represent a more visible presence in Eastern Europe.

Details of the plan will be presented at the NATO summit in Wales later this week.

Rasmussen said the summit is taking place in what he said is a changed world. He said NATO has to adapt to the Russian attitude that Europe is an adversary.

EU threatens new sanctions

Over the weekend, European Union leaders, meeting in Brussels, called on Russia to "immediately withdraw all its military assets and forces from Ukraine" or face a new round of sanctions within a week.

Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged on Monday that enacting further punitive measures against Russia could hit the German economy, but said that doing nothing in response to Moscow's aggression in Ukraine was “not an option.”

“I have said that [sanctions] can have an impact, also for German companies,” Merkel told a news conference in Berlin. “But I have to say there is also an impact when you are allowed to move borders in Europe and attack other countries with your troops,” she added.

“Accepting Russia's behavior is not an option," said Merkel.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a visit to Siberia, urged the EU on Monday to show "common sense" and not to resort to mutually destructive sanctions, in his first reaction to the threat of additional punitive measures over Ukraine.

Continued Russian denials

Russia has repeatedly denied it has any troops in Ukraine. Also, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov repeated Moscow's position Monday that it has never offered material support to the rebels. He also dismissed Ukraine's demand the rebels first disarm and called again for an unconditional cease-fire.

Lavrov said that there will be no military intervention and that Russia supports only a peaceful resolution to the crisis. Everything Russia does, he said, is aimed at promoting a political approach.  But unfortunately, he added, Western countries are blind to the situation, and everything Kyiv authorities declare and do receives support in the West.

Meanwhile, pro-Russian separatist leader Andrei Purgin says he is ready to discuss a cease-fire and prisoner exchange at peace talks in Minsk.

The first round ended Monday with no major progress. But Purgin, leader of a self-proclaimed Donetsk people's republic and separatists aligned with him say they are willing to remain part of Ukraine if they are granted more autonomy.

There has been no official reaction from Kyiv.

Situation on the ground

Ukrainian security authorities say a column of Russian tanks backed-up separatist rebels in the east as they pushed government forces from Luhansk airport.

Ukraine National Security and Defense Council spokesman Colonel Andriy Lysenko says Ukrainian troops were forced to withdraw after coming under heavy fire.

He said that judging from the precision of the strikes, the shelling was by professional artillerymen of the Russian Federation.

The Ukrainian spokesman said no less than 1,600 Russian soldiers are operating inside Ukraine to support the rebels.

Moscow says Kyiv is claiming Russian troops are in Ukraine as an excuse to explain its recent military losses.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Ander Fogh Rasmussen told reporters in Brussels Monday that Ukraine's next parliament, to be elected late October, will likely change the country's "non-aligned status," a possible first step toward applying to join the Western military alliance.

School year starts

Despite raging conflict in the area, children in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk attended their first day of school on Monday.

Young students in uniform and traditionally embroidered items of clothing attended a school assembly, handing flowers to their teachers, before walking to their classes in groups.

Head teacher at the school, Aleksandr Pastukhov, said he hoped the new school year would herald peace.

Asked to what extent the school had been affected by ongoing tensions in the east, Pastukhov said some 38 children had not returned for classes and their families could not be reached by telephone, suggesting many had fled Slovyansk.

"Five teachers have left our so called school family. But as of today we have found replacements," he added.

Daniel Schearf contributed to this report from Kyiv. Some information provided by Reuters, AP and AFP.

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Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous
September 01, 2014 10:06 PM
All of the Russians I know are WITH Ukrainians and dislike what Putin is doing, and dislike what Russians are doing in Ukraine. The Russians I know respect Ukrainians and their country, and their laws.

by: Mark from: Virginia
September 01, 2014 7:11 PM
Wise Man says; (nod to meanbill)
A moment of Patience in a moment of Anger will prevent a hundred moments of Regret.
(actually, I read that off a T-shirt... maybe the T-shirt's name was Wise Man..?)
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
September 01, 2014 8:25 PM
Hey Mark;.. Maybe you should send those T-shirts to Ukraine, and some wiser men and women Ukrainians would take your advice, and stop this relentless rhetoric of accusations and threats, and settle the Ukraine crisis like the wise man would, (and negotiate with each other), instead of killing everybody and maybe end up destroying the whole damn country?....
PS;.. The Wise Man didn't say that either..... REALLY

by: Christine Mackey from: Canada
September 01, 2014 5:02 PM
Unfortunately, the US federal elections won't come soon enough for the embattled citizens of Ukraine and a leadership that actually believed NATO when they were asked to destroy all nuclear weaponry in exchange for fast tracking the country's entry into the alliance. Not that NATO membership would have meant anything apparently.

Instead the US sends arms, humanitarian aid, money and yes, troops for training purposes, to the area most important to them - the OIL STATES. Deja vous?

I'm also so thoroughly disgusted by the inaction of the EU and the west I've actually turned against the American democratic party and its' leadership for choosing oil over people and have determined our somewhat large extended family will NEVER set foot in Europe again, a once favored vacation destination.

Our Canadian relatives provided 2 different sets of family to Baden Germany as part of the Canadian peacekeeping contingent, and indeed they spent several tours each providing security and peace of mind to European countries. I have 2 nieces with joint German/Canadian citizenship, and their tours of duty meant tourist income for most European countries. We all benefited from those tours by knowing the best countries to shop, visit, vacation and honeymoon. Never again.

I call on all those military families who have since made Europe their vacation destination to stop - and spend their hard earned money on countries more civilized than those who would leave an embattled Ukraine to fend for themselves.

by: DellStator from: US
September 01, 2014 2:03 PM
Talk, talk, talk, not even sending a sandbag, sack of pototaoes or a hammer to help the Ukraine. Heh, Dr's are non military support, at least send MASH units. Nahhhh, might annoy Russia. Replace the measly 6% of our energy needs Russian gas supplies by turning our thermostats down to 65 in the winter (No I'll catch a chill) or insulate our buildings (we'll look like America then, ick!)

Saw a comment below that new Ukrainian gov't was not going to allow Russia Crimea base to remain. I've been all over this since it started and I never heard this. Crimea was already "autonomous" and like spending more than they sent to Kiev in taxes so:

1. Kiev sent a billion US per year to support a life style that didn't include working for a living (Russians, what can you say, they expect the state to support them).
2. Russia PAID 600 million US a year lease on the base, without it Crimea subsidy to Crimea would be 1.6 BILLION.

by: meanbill from: USA
September 01, 2014 1:50 PM
It's never to late to negotiate instead of going to war, and war should be the last option when all else fails, the wise man said it... IF ONLY the pro-Russian protesters had been treated the same as the Kiev protesters, it wouldn't have spiraled into the crisis it has become, would it of had?... ONLY the Ukraine "people" can solve this crisis, and all of the outsiders aren't helping in anyway, but causing Ukraine to move, more and more towards war?

When anti-government protests lead to civil conflicts or wars, it's usually caused by external forces stoking a change of leadership, or the changing the countries politics, to their own interests and not of the citizens of Ukraine?

by: Anonymous from: Germany
September 01, 2014 12:00 PM
Russia has become a country not suitable for anyone ...

by: van from: vn
September 01, 2014 9:58 AM
Putin is so selfish and lying. Assad shot his people . He protected Assad, Kiev shot rebels in Donest he protected rebels .the simple thing is just that Ukraine wants to follow the west. very funny.

by: Lawrence Bush from: Houston, USA
September 01, 2014 9:13 AM
Unquestionably, Russia is the fulcrum in the estern Europe as a state. It's too clear a big state does endeavor to exercise its influences in the adjacent states over the regional platform. The politico-diplomatic and strategic efforts of Moscow in its Ukraine intervention to creating a chaotic order is clear. The very objective - to make Ukraine to tow in the line of Moscow.

After the annexation of Crimea, the very objective of Kremlin remains over the eastern and the southern parts of Ukraine where the Moscow backed separatists do do clash with the Ukrainian state forces. Even some hundreds of the Russian troops do move carrying the Russian strategies inside the eastern region of Ukraine and some thousands do await Moscow directives to enter in to bolster the separatism....... In context of the economic sanctions on behalf of the EU and ours,

Moscow feels that're to cause reciprocal damage. So, such calculations too make Moscow adamant to be deterred easily. To de-escalate the current discrimen in Ukraine, it's estimable until Moscow engages with the EU and ours in constructive dialogue process, till then Ukraine is going to be battered.

by: Andrew Carnigie
September 01, 2014 9:02 AM
A big step toward peace would be for Kiev (a.k.a. Kyiv) to offer Russia a deal like the Yanukovych government had: Sevastopol is Ukranian but Russia gets to use it. Had Turchynov offered that, most of this wouldn't have happened.

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