News / Europe

    NATO: Russia Could Be Poised to Invade Eastern Ukraine

    FILE - A Russian flag is seen behind a Russian army vehicle.
    FILE - A Russian flag is seen behind a Russian army vehicle.
    VOA News

    Russia, has amassed around 20,000 combat-ready troops on Ukraine's eastern border, could use the pretext of a humanitarian or peace-keeping mission to invade, NATO warned on Wednesday.

    "We share the concern that Russia could use the pretext of a humanitarian or peacekeeping mission as an excuse to send troops into eastern Ukraine," NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said Wednesday.

    At a news conference late Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama rejected - for now - calls to provide Ukraine with lethal military aid.

    “If you start seeing an invasion by Russia, then that’s a different set of questions.  We’re not there yet,” said Obama wrapping up a summit with African leaders in Washington.

    He said instead that sanctions designed to hit hard at the Russian economy should be given more time to work.

    “We’re doing exactly what we should be doing and we’re very pleased that our European allies and our partners joined us,” said Obama.

    The White House has said Vice President Joe Biden discussed concerns about Russia’s most recent military build-up with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in a phone call Wednesday.

    "The two leaders expressed concern with Russian statements suggesting a role for Russian “peacekeepers” in Ukraine, with Russia’s ongoing military buildup on Ukraine’s border, and with Russia’s continuing transfer of weapons to Russian proxies in Ukraine," the White House said in a read-out of the call.

    A day earlier, the Western military alliance said Russia has "significantly increased" the number of troops on its border with Ukraine in recent days, bringing the total there to around 20,000, along with a large number of tanks, infantry, special forces and aircraft.

    Stating the conflict in Ukraine was fueled by Russia, NATO said in a statement that the troop build-up had further escalated “a dangerous situation.”

    “We're not going to guess what's on Russia's mind, but we can see what Russia is doing on the ground - and that is of great concern,” Lungescu said in an emailed statement.

    The concern of a possible invasion was echoed by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

    “When you see the buildup of Russian troops and the sophistication of those troops, the training of those troops, the heavy military equipment that's being put along that border, of course it's a reality and it's a threat.  And it's a possibility, absolutely," said Hagel following a visit to U.S. European Command Headquarters.

    'Significant re-buildup'

    Late last month, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken said there had been "a significant re-buildup of Russian forces along the border, potentially positioning Russia for a so-called humanitarian or peacekeeping intervention in Ukraine."

    Also Wednesday, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said that the threat of Russian intervention in Ukraine has risen over the past few days.

    "We have reasons to suspect - we have been receiving such information in the last several hours - that the risk of a direct intervention is higher than it was several days ago," Tusk told reporters in Warsaw.

    Moscow denies Western accusations that it has armed and supported rebels who are fighting Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine. It announced new military exercises to take place all this week, involving bombers and warplanes on Monday in a show of strength near the border with Ukraine.

    'Combat readiness'

    Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday that the peacekeeping units of Russia's armed forces need to be in a state of "constant combat readiness."

    He made his comments while observing drills conducted by a peacekeeping unit at a base in southern Russia's Samara region.

    NATO said early this year that Russia had amassed some 40,000 troops close to the Ukraine border. By June, the number had dropped to less than 1,000, but then Russia started building the force up again.

    The comments came as intense fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists continued in eastern Ukraine.

    A Ukrainian military spokesman said Wednesday that 18 servicemen had been killed and 54 wounded in fighting over the previous 24 hours.

    UN meeting

    On Tuesday Russia urged the United Nations to take immediate action to deal with the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, but the U.S. said Russia has the means to stop it.

    At an emergency Security Council meeting called by Russia Tuesday, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said international humanitarian principles need to be followed in eastern Ukraine. He criticized the government in Kyiv for what he calls its violent repression of the region.

    Deputy U.S. Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo said Russia could stop all of it by halting the flow of fighters, weapons and money to the separatists. But she said Russia has instead doubled the number of troop battalions near the border and plans large-scale military exercises.

    U.N. official John Ging told the council the humanitarian situation is getting worse in Ukraine especially because of violence in urban areas. He said many who have fled their homes do not register with officials, making it hard to assess relief needs.

    MH17 investigation, recovery suspended

    Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has recalled investigators probing the shootdown of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine, saying fighting near the crash site makes it too dangerous to continue.

    Rutte, speaking Wednesday in The Hague, also gave no timetable for resuming the search for human remains. He said only that the effort will continue when Ukraine is "more stable."

    Flight MH17, with 298 people on board, was downed July 17 near the city of Donetsk, in an area controlled by pro-Russia rebels.  Most of the victims on the Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur flight were Dutch.  There were no survivors.  Authorities say 228 coffins with remains have so far been returned to the Netherlands.

    VOA's Jeff Seldin contributed to this report; some information provided by Reuters.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    August 06, 2014 2:25 PM
    At the centenary of the world war one touted to be the war end all wars, NATO is beginning to find fundamental flaws in its makeup. It’s been made up to confront a common enemy – if there is anything like that. That is if one member is attacked becomes all the members’ problem to give collective response. Perhaps Russia was in mind when NATO was formulating its policy. Now the saying goes that things are easier said than done, and the case between NATO member states and Russia may not have been envisaged, or when it was, the world looked differently in the kind of scenario expected. No one actually was thinking of a nuclear-age confrontation. I do not mean the timidity of member-nations to say things, but I refer to the actual strikes, especially if Russia wishes to make good the fear of Oana Lungescu that Russia wants to use the disguise of humanitarian and/or peace-keeping mission to attack, who will bail the cat?

    But the first question should be, why create the avenue for Russia to come in in the first place? Why does Kiev respond high-handedly to the self-determination effort of the Donetsk people? Why must NATO and EU not allow due processes of legislation and referendum/conference to decide what the people want? Why is East Ukraine being forced to remain in a country that refuses to allow due process in choice of where the people should belong, hence we know that the people are being forced to belong to a pro-west Ukraine? It will be insensitive of Moscow not to respond or intervene when it sees lives and interests being jeopardized by Ukraine mob-administration in Kiev

    by: Vladimir from: Russia
    August 06, 2014 12:23 PM
    hey guys, Russia is doing very well thank you for asking... stronger ties with China, Brazil, Germany, France than ever before... and the Jewel in the crown - Israel - after repeated betrayals by Hussein Obama is coming to our side..!! what's to complain ?

    by: Michael from: Berlin
    August 06, 2014 10:42 AM
    Russia seems to be out of control. It lives in its own dimensions and does not hear what international community is speaking about. Poor Ukrainians face deaths,because West can not defend their territorial integrity due to economic ties with Russia. West has no future if it is sponsoring terrorist country like Russia!!!
    In Response

    by: Michael from: S-Pb
    August 07, 2014 12:40 AM
    You want to control Russia? You have somehow tried to ... Do not even recalling your attempts in the 20th century. I would like to recall the 19th century and the French effort, about the 18th century and attempts to Sweden, before Poland, Turkey, etc. Learn the history, do not repeat the mistakes of others and their.
    In Response

    by: Igor from: Russia
    August 07, 2014 12:25 AM
    Hey Michael, who, do you think, are terrorists in Ukraine? Those who used force against the illegally elected president in Ukraine and forced him to leave because if he had not he would have shot at his head, or those who burned to death a lot of people in Odessa, or those who are killing alot of innocent civilians in the East with mass destruction weapons...I think you are misusing the definition "terrorists". You, the West, call all those who you dislike "terrorists" and are ready to justify for the mass killing of civilians in Gaza. We call it terrorist acts and crime against humanity.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora