News / Europe

    Russia Again Boosts Troop Levels on Ukraine Border

    • A pro-Russian separatist rebel guards a checkpoint near the village of Rozsypne in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region August 4, 2014.
    • Ukrainian servicemen wave as they drive past in an armoured vehicle in the eastern Ukrainian town of Kramatorsk, Aug. 5, 2014.
    • A Ukrainian army military armored vehicle is seen through a ruined building on the outskirts of Slovyansk, Aug. 5, 2014.
    • Wreckage lies near a pro-Russian separatist checkpoint at the site of the downed Malaysian airliner MH17 near the village of Rozsypne, in the Donetsk region, Aug. 4, 2014.
    • Dutch and Australian forensic experts continue recovery work at the site of the downed Malaysian airliner MH17 near the village of Rozsypne, in the Donetsk region, Aug. 4, 2014.
    • Pro-Russian separatists stand near Dutch and Australian forensic experts preparing to continue recovery work near the village of Rozsypne, in the Donetsk region, Aug. 4, 2014.
    • A pro-Russian separatist looks through binoculars as Dutch and Australian forensic experts continue recovery work at the site of the downed Malaysian airliner MH17 near the village of Rozsypne, in the Donetsk region, Aug. 4, 2014.
    • Dutch and Australian forensic experts continue recovery work near the village of Rozsypne, in the Donetsk region, Aug. 4, 2014.
    • A makeshift evidence marker at the site of the downed Malaysian airliner MH17, near the village of Rozsypne, in the Donetsk region, Aug. 4, 2014.
    VOA News

    Russia has again bolstered its troops presence on its frontier with Ukraine’s east, triggering concerns of cross-border fire or a possible intervention in support of pro-Moscow rebels increasingly besieged by Ukrainian government forces.

    The spike in troop and military hardware levels has been confirmed by both NATO and US military officials.

    "In early August, Russia significantly increased the number of troops in the vicinity of the Russian border.  Our current assessment is that around 20,000 troops are now in the area.  This troop presence includes tanks, infantry, artillery, air defense systems, as well as logistics troops, special forces, and various aircraft," a NATO official said in a written statement.

    More firepower

    A spokesman for Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, Andriy Lysenko, said Tuesday that Russia has deployed 45,000 troops to the border - along with a large number of tanks, artillery, multiple rocket launchers and aircraft.

    He also said that Russian forces fired artillery and Grad rockets at Ukrainian positions across the border for several hours on Monday.

    In addition, Moscow has announced a five-day drill inside Russian territory, involving some 100 warplanes, helicopters and anti-aircraft batteries. Some of the exercises are being conducted close to Russia’s border with Ukraine.

    With Ukrainian troops advancing toward the two remaining rebel strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk, officials in Kyiv have expressed concern over a possible Russian offensive. Short of a full-blown military incursion, Russia might also be considering sending its forces as “peacekeepers” into eastern Ukraine, officials in Kyiv say.

    Ukrainian government troops have been steadily gaining ground since the country elected a new president in late May.

    Putin on sanctions

    Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin says he has ordered his Cabinet to prepare a response to Western sanctions.

    During a meeting with Alexei Gordeyev, the governor of the Voronezh region near Ukraine, Putin said the use of "political instruments of pressure" against Russia's economy are "unacceptable" and contradict "all norms and rules." He said, however, that any retaliatory measures in response to the sanctions must be taken "very carefully," to support domestic producers without harming consumers.

    The United States and its allies have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula from Ukraine and support of the separatists in eastern Ukraine.

    Hijacking ambulances

    Meanwhile, a leading human rights group has accused pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine’s east of aggravating the humanitarian crisis triggered by the four-month-old conflict.

    U.S.-based Human Rights Watch issued a statement Tuesday saying rebel attacks on medical personnel and facilities have "compromised the ability of civilian patients to receive treatment."  The group says separatist forces have stolen and destroyed medical equipment and hospital furniture, and hijacked ambulances and used them to transport their fighters.

    Human Rights Watch also says at least two medical workers have been killed in mortar attacks that were likely carried out by Ukrainian forces.
     
    Ukraine’s Defense and Security Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko told reporters Monday the military has opened humanitarian corridors for Donetsk residents to flee a planned government offensive, and that steps are being taken to assist evacuees find temporary shelter.

    MH17 recovery

    Ukraine, Washington and its European allies accuse Moscow of arming rebels and having provided them with the missile battery used to bring down a Malaysian airliner last month.

    Both Russia and the rebels in Ukraine have denied involvement.

    The jetliner with 298 people on board was downed July 17 near Donetsk.  There were no survivors.

    Search teams on Monday continued their efforts to locate remains of more victims from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, most of whom where Dutch nationals.

    The head of the Dutch police mission working at the crash site says crews have finished searching one of five zones of the site.  He said completing the search will take at least three weeks.

    VOA's Jeff Seldin has contributed to this report from the Pentagon; additional information provided by Reuters.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: meanbill from: USA
    August 05, 2014 11:03 PM
    THE WISE MAN said it;.... Putin doesn't want to make the pro-Russian separatist region of Ukraine, a part of Russia, (and), he has repeatedly said for the Ukraine government to call a ceasefire, and negotiate with the pro-Russian separatist, who wanted an autonomous Russian speaking region in Ukraine..... not in Russia.

    IF ONLY the US, EU, and NATO countries hadn't interfered in Ukraine, the Ukrainians wouldn't be at war, and Crimea would still be a part of Ukraine.....

    IF ONLY?... Every time the US, EU, and NATO countries interfere in the politics of other countries like Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, and now Ukraine, they bring nothing but violence, destruction, killings and wars, that never seem to end.....

    by: DellStator from: US
    August 05, 2014 9:26 PM
    Everyone that thinks Russia has anything to learn from anyone hasn't read much history.
    Russia was very happy being the USSR, the leaders lived a life of luxury, the people suffered. THAT IS RUSSIA. It is what Russians expect, indeed want apparently. The state keeps them barely alive, but they don't have to think, to strive, to make choices, except who to bribe for a better job, better housing, better food.
    Didn't you notice Russias first response to the first effective Euro Zone sanctions was to A. Have the Russian Mercs shoot down an airliner - followed by banning food imports into Russia.
    Got it now?

    by: Richard Mc from: North Carolina
    August 05, 2014 2:49 PM
    I wonder what the Russians will say when they find out that Putin is financing a lot of this by dipping into the Russian Pension Fund?
    In Response

    by: Igor from: Russia
    August 06, 2014 9:55 PM
    I think you are wrong because Russia can do business with other emerging countries such as India, China, Latin and South Americas...So we still live well. Also, we will stop our co-operation with the West in all other issues such as Space, anti-terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons....You will create golden business opportunites for others when you leave Russian market.
    In Response

    by: Richard Mc from: 3155 Ross
    August 06, 2014 8:39 AM
    Igor: That is a problem. However, since the US economy is 7 times that of Russia and the EU economy is 8 times that of Russia, Russia is likely to go broke much earlier.
    In Response

    by: Sergei from: WA
    August 06, 2014 1:47 AM
    Russians know this already. But their relations with their government doesn't look like "shareholders vs executives", like in the US. It's more like "Predators vs prey". Stronger types tend to identify themselves with predators, for example they looking for work in the various national security/police forces, army and bureaucracy. Weaker ones tend to evade, hide and adapt.
    In Response

    by: Igor from: Russia
    August 05, 2014 11:44 PM
    I cannot imagine what the americans will say when they find out that Obama is receiving huge amount of money from weapon producers in the USA in order to instigate wars in the Middle East and Europe. Ukraine would be a huge market for US mass killing weapons.

    by: max ajida from: pretoria South Africa
    August 05, 2014 2:44 PM
    Putin must learn from History, Adolf Hitler. Military prowess won't make you a leader but your constructive attitudes towards others will make you a natural leader. Putin lacks knowledge that the bank is mightier than tanks. Russian economy might be on recesion soon due to sanctions and instead of preventing the downfall of Russian economy ,Putin is putting troops along the boarders with Ukrain, an act of intimidation. Kyiv will defeat your rebels in their territory without fear.
    In Response

    by: Michael from: S-Pb
    August 06, 2014 12:19 AM
    I think that you need to teach history! In France and Poland were the banks and they were very quickly fought for and won, the USSR did not have banks and defeated Germany.

    by: Sunny Enwerem from: Lagos Nigeria
    August 05, 2014 1:24 PM
    Here comes Putin's consequence which is putting Russian troops clearly inside Ukraine in the guise of peace keepers and a clear plan to keep them well inside Ukraine as its bargaining chip against the sanctions, only if the US and EU could triple its current sanctions on Putin and Russia as a clear sign of strength against the aggressors.

    by: skip from: Lugansk
    August 05, 2014 11:36 AM
    Rebels?? Rebelling against whom?? These are Russian mercenary invaders. This war may have begun with local rebels, but it's time the media recognized everything has changed. Also, we know it's the terrorists who are shelling Lugansk, not the Ukrainian military, though they're blamed. Why? Obviously, then Putin can release his "peacekeepers" to "save" the city.

    by: Richard Mc from: North Carolina
    August 05, 2014 11:12 AM
    Russia would do well to remember Afghanistan. In a recent poll 10% of Ukrainians have said they would fight in the resistance. The Ukraine could easily become 10 Afghanistans for Russia.
    In Response

    by: Michael from: S-Pb
    August 06, 2014 12:25 AM
    You somehow repeat all the mistakes of the USSR in Afghanistan. We won in Chechnya. There is now peace and new homes. You're responsible for what's going ito in Libya, Iraq, and what will happen in Afghanistan after you leave.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora