By Isla LaMont,
International News Writer
The Ukrainian military claimed on Monday, January 19 that Russian forces had crossed their Eastern border and attacked Ukrainian troops in an effort to support pro-Russian separatists.
The Russian Defense Ministry later called such accusations “complete rubbish.” CNN reports that the Ministry spokesman went on to say that they were “designed to attract sympathy and investment for Ukraine.”
There has yet to be any outside confirmation of Ukraine’s allegations.
In response to the recent escalation in violence, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is scheduled to return home from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. While Moscow denies dispatching military forces into Ukraine, it acknowledges Russian “volunteers” are offering assistance to the separatists.
The Ukrainian-Russian crisis originated in November 2013 when former president and pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych chose stronger ties with Russia over a commitment with the European Union.
Russia has long been accused by Ukraine and the West of aiding the rebels by equipping them with weapons and supplies, leading to economic sanctions by NATO in cooperation with the U.S. and European allies.
“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,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk stated, as quoted by CNN.
Continued fighting between Ukrainian Military and pro-Russian rebels has moved east towards the Ukrainian-Russian border.
The rebels lost ground in the north during government crack downs and instead moved their advancements south.
The rebels are currently focused on controlling the destroyed Donetsk International Airport.
Moscow claims that the rebels “have the right” to the airport due to its proximity to their main stronghold, which has recently been under control of the Ukrainian military, though Kiev denies this.
4,800 people have already been killed in the conflict, and over a million more displaced or homeless. According to the UN, 5.2 million people are currently living in areas affected by the conflict, with 1.4 million classified as “highly vulnerable and in need of assistance.”
Ukrainian military have regained control of the area while suffering “deadly losses,” including the capture of eight troops by rebel forces.
Ukrainian rebels reportedly began to attack the city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine on Saturday January 24, prompting officials to call for an immediate session of the UN Security Council
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, January 27th print edition.
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