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Ukraine back on the brink amid claims Russia is arming rebels

Russia says that the claims are “propaganda”.

Unmarked military vehicles parked on a road outside the separatist rebel-held eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne, 80 kilometres from Donetsk on Saturday .
Unmarked military vehicles parked on a road outside the separatist rebel-held eastern Ukrainian town of Snizhne, 80 kilometres from Donetsk on Saturday .
Image: AP/Press Association Images

INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE IS mounting on Russia over claims it is sending fresh military hardware into eastern Ukraine which could fuel a return to all-out conflict.

After NATO accused Russia of deploying tanks, troops and military hardware to the region, Ukraine said four of its soldiers had been killed in the past 24 hours and 18 wounded.

There were a string of explosions late last night in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk but the situation was calm Thursday, an AFP reporter said, with only occasional exchanges of fire.

Rebels said three people were injured in shelling in Donetsk Wednesday.

The skirmishes on the ground played out against a backdrop of rising Western concern over claims that Russia is dispatching reinforcements to the east of the former Soviet state.

Ukraine Source: AP/Press Association Images

NATO’s commander in Europe, US General Philip Breedlove, said that “columns of Russian equipment, primarily Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defence systems and Russian combat troops” were entering Ukraine.

His comments came shortly before an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council at which Assistant Secretary-General Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen said it “deeply concerned” by a possible return to full-scale fighting.

The US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said Russia “talks peace but it keeps fuelling war” and accused it of working to undermine September’s Minsk agreement, which included a ceasefire.

But Russia’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN, Alexander Pankin, described NATO claims of a Russian military build-up in east Ukraine as a “foray into propaganda”.

- © AFP, 2014

Read: Tanks, troops, and artillery pour into Ukraine from Russia

Read: Gorbachev: We’re on the brink of a ‘new Cold War’

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