News / Europe

Russia Arms Ukraine Secessionists, Again

Russia Arms Ukraine Secessionists, Againi
James Brooke
June 18, 2014 10:54 PM
When Crimea broke away from Ukraine, after the uprising in Kyiv that ousted president Viktor Yanukovych, Russia denied sending soldiers and weapons to boost the secessionist forces. Now, as James Brooke reports for VOA from Moscow, the Kremlin is trying the same tactic in the Russian-leaning areas of southeastern Ukraine.
James Brooke
When Crimea broke away from Ukraine, after the uprising in Kyiv that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, Russia denied sending soldiers and weapons to boost the secessionist forces. Now the Kremlin is trying the same tactic in the Russian-leaning areas of southeastern Ukraine.
Video of Ukraine rebels jump-starting an old tank atop a World War II monument seemed to symbolize to the world their shortage of weapons.
On June 4, President Vladimir Putin told a French interviewer that American officials were lying when they accused Russia of sending men and materiel to Ukraine’s secessionists.
“There are no armed forces, no Russian ‘instructors’ in southeastern Ukraine," he said. "And there never were any.”
He then challenged Washington to show proof.
Despite his disavowal, videos surfaced on YouTube last week of three modern T-64 tanks - clanking through the streets of rebel-controlled Donetsk.
Then, NATO released satellite photos indicating that the tanks came from southern Russia as part of a larger weapons convoy that included rocket launchers.
Pavel Felgenhauer, a Moscow military analyst, says the Kremlin sent the tanks to pick up the spirits of rebels squeezed by a Ukrainian Army offensive.
“These tanks would be, a powerful morale booster. So they were paraded, most likely, not for Western consumption but for local consumption,” said Felgenhauer.
Rebel fighters are increasingly surrounded by Ukrainian army troops, and this week, rebel militia leader Igor Strelkov urgently appealed to Moscow for more Russian arms. Other rebel leaders went to Moscow and appealed in person.
In Moscow, Sergei Markov, an influential nationalist thinker, warned that Moscow needs Ukraine’s Donbass region as a safety buffer between Russia and the West.

"Russia can't give up the Donbass," he said, "because the next blow will be against Russia."
Markov warned of security consequences if Russia allowed a pro-West government to survive in Kyiv.  He predicted that in 2017, “a NATO-Ukrainian army will invade Russia through Crimea."
Ukraine’s new president, Petro Poroshenko, is proposing a unilateral cease-fire.  But first, his soldiers are trying to shut off Russian arms shipments by closing Ukraine’s 2,000-kilometer land border with Russia.
On the other side of the border, however, Russia is rebuilding its military strength.  Felgenhauer says the goal is to give Russia the option of a cross-border offensive in July or August.
“If there is a threat the rebellion will collapse, Russia may move in, in force,” said Felgenhauer.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the day after Russia stopped selling gas to Ukraine, there was an explosion on a buried pipeline that exports gas to Europe.  Ukrainian authorities say the blast might have been an act of terrorism aimed at undermining Ukraine's reputation as a reliable conduit for energy supplies.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Michaelcald from: odessa ukraine
June 19, 2014 12:41 PM
Mr Putin is a fine one to call people liars !! He has told so many lies that people are losing count of the lies that he has told. How many times has he told the world he is pulling troops from the border of Ukraine but only adds more troops ? Protecting Russian speakers ? Everyone in Ukraine speaks Russian including the President of Ukraine.

Ukraine now has a Ukrainian President not a puppet from Moscow controlled by Putin. It is only right that Ukraine has a President that stands for the country not for going to the National Bank Of Ukraine and stealing millions of dollars daily and then taking the funds to Russia with the blessing of Mr Putin. Many of the people killed thus far are from Russia and have been sent back to Russia. Why cannot someone simply say that this conflict is all about money.

by: Michaelcald from: odessa ukraine
June 19, 2014 12:34 PM
Everyone in Ukraine is sick of this situation. I doubt that Russians supplied the tanks to the criminal mercenaries in the East of Ukraine. Here is the thing , most people in Donetsk and Lugansk simply want this over with. When the money stops this will end . This conflict has nothing to do with religion, nothing to do with language but it does has everything to do with money. NATO will not attack Russia, whomever thinks that needs to have a reality check. No one needs to attack Russia they will not need to.

This conflict is simply about MONEY all conflicts are about money. Russian language speakers ??? Everyone in Ukraine speaks Russian !!! Putin is a terrible leader and will lead Russia to a collapse. No one needs to attack Russia. Crimea will cost Russia hundreds of Billions of dollars. Russian news is advertising all flights to Simferopol are sold out, that is a lie, there are very few people on airplane flights to Simferopol. Russian media is so full of lies many countries have stopped airing Russian news. Russia is being lead into the past by Mr Putin, good job. The world is very hostile to Russians now. No one wants Russian people and no one wants their dirty money. Think about what you have done Mr Putin !!!

by: Joe from: USA
June 19, 2014 10:48 AM
First thing lost in war is the truth.

by: StopWWIII from: US
June 19, 2014 9:58 AM
Media must stop calling Donetsk/Luhansk rebels separatists. These are also Ukrainians of Russian origin. They lived there for 1000 of years longer than US existed. What they want is Federalization and official Russian language - 2 things that were not given to them by Ukraine government. Instead Ukraine government with US support started killing them and all civilians along.
In Response

by: Michaelcald from: odessa ukraine
June 19, 2014 3:40 PM
Ukraine has never been part of Russia. The Russians sent criminals from Russia to Ukraine to work in the coal mines. Donetsk does have some Russian criminal heritage, is that what you are talking about ?? Crimea belonged to the Turks for hundreds of years longer than it belonged to Russia so by Putins logic Crimea should really go back to Turkey !! Putin continues to alienate Russia from the world. He fills the Russian people full of lies. I can name several lies that he told in the last few months. Who would believe Putin now ?? Your leader is a directly responsible of how all Russian people will be treated in the future.

by: Patrick Carroll from: Ireland
June 19, 2014 4:06 AM
As someone who has longstanding business relations with Ukraine and it's people, I concur with every syllable of this article.

In other words, anyone who thinks Putin will let go of the Donbass without being forced too, is deluded.

Likewise, the explosion on the gas line was to garner support from West European countries for the planned South Stream pipe line
In Response

by: Bogart724 from: Oak Grove, Louisiana
June 19, 2014 1:01 PM
If there is any justice in this wretched world, Russia will end up owning all of southern and eastern Ukraine. Let the crazies have the remainder of mess....

by: Bobby from: Ukraine
June 19, 2014 3:00 AM
"modern T-64" tanks? so 1964 is modern and the "monument" tank being jump started, the IS-3 (Iosif Stalin-3) made 1944-1960+, are ancient history :)? Russia doesn't use any of these 'modern' tanks.

by: Dimking
June 19, 2014 2:00 AM
Do you really think Russia has only 3 tanks?
T-64 are out of service in Russia btw.

by: Bogart724 from: Oak Grove, Louisiana
June 19, 2014 12:21 AM
So what if Russia is arming the Separatists. She should arm them and America should mind her own business and stay out of the matter. Nothing that America might do, concerning the Ukraine, except stay out of her troubles, will prove profitable. If she continues to meddle, the troubles that she will brew for herself will only multiply and become worse....

by: Peter from: New York
June 18, 2014 11:59 PM
"three modern T-64 tanks"

Tanks built in 1964 are considered modern by Voice of America?

And considering that Ukrainian Army already deployed about hundred of tanks in eastern regions. Isn't it kind of silly to send just three tanks?

In Response

by: LES1 from: Ukraine
June 19, 2014 1:44 PM

As reported previously in the National Security Council, in Donetsk appeared - new Russian tanks T-72. June 17 armored vehicles moved by terrorists.

by: mo from: usa
June 18, 2014 11:53 PM
Couple of little details.
1) Russia stopped manufacturing T-64 about 30 years ago but Ukraine still does.
2) Several T-64 tanks were captured from Ukrainian army by the separatists several weeks ago
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