Russia captures strategically important town ahead of ‘next stage’ of Ukraine invasion, according to UK intelligence London – British intelligence sources have just released what they believe will be the next stage of Russian military action in Ukraine, and it could be nothing short of devastating…
Russia captured a strategically important Ukrainian town today – opening up a new front in its offensive against Kiev’s military and its allies. Kyiv said Moscow-backed separatists used heavy artillery and tanks as they attacked Novoazovsk, a government-held port on the Azov Sea in eastern Ukraine that lies between Mariupol, which Kiev says it has regained control of from rebels, and Russia. The attack is likely to have implications for peace talks under way in Minsk aimed at resolving Ukraine’s conflict with separatists who want independence from Kiev in their former Soviet republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. It may also affect Germany’s position regarding providing arms for Kyiv as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government sees Moscow as being behind violence there despite denials by President Vladimir Putin. (Reuters)
Shortly after 10 a.m. GMT Wednesday, CNN reported that Ukrainian forces had abandoned their position at Luhansk airport and were retreating towards Debaltseve in defeat and disarray following an intense assault by combined Russian-separatist forces. The news came as a shock just as many Western politicians were hailing Monday’s agreement on a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine as a possible turning point in international efforts to end months of fighting between Kiev government troops and pro-Russian separatists backed by Moscow arms and personnel.
An incursion into southeast Ukraine and possible limited military action could be enough to trigger a further round of sanctions against Moscow, said Malcolm Chalmers, a defense analyst at London’s Royal United Services Institute think tank. Another factor is that political and diplomatic pressure on Putin has been building up over recent months and they need some kind of response. So far, European Union leaders have been noticeably muted in their reactions to Thursday’s events. The German government has downplayed any possibility that Berlin will abandon its commitment not to militarize its approach toward Moscow by agreeing to give Kiev military aid but it did pledge 1 billion euros ($1.35 billion) in financial support earlier Friday after meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in Berlin…
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