Escalation in conflict in southern Ukraine
(28 August 2014)
Pro-Russian rebels took control of a strategic coastal town in Ukraine just a day after Kiev reported Russian paratroopers and armored vehicles had crossed the border into Ukrainian territory, marking a further escalation in the conflict in southern Ukraine that began in April 2014.
Rebels allied with the Donetsk People’s Republic captured the town of Novoazovsk, located west of the Russian border and along the route to Mariupol, Ukraine’s regional centre of government and an important shipping port along the Sea of Azov. According to Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council’s Colonel Andriy Lysenko, “The city of Novoazovsk is under fire from both Russia and occupied spots on Ukrainian territory.” If captured by pro-Russian separatists, this region would connect Russian-controlled Crimea with Russia to the north, and allow access to the oil and gas fields in the Sea of Azov as well as other strategic manufacturing and agricultural areas.
Meanwhile, Ukraine reported the interception of Russian armoured personnel carriers, tanks, and paratroopers crossing the border from Russia to Ukraine en route to Novoazovsk. Similar reports from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have suggested that Russian military equipment and troops have been crossing the border into Ukraine over the past two weeks.
Ukrainian officials allege that Russian troops are now fighting together with pro-Russian separatist forces in Ukraine. Russian officials denied these claims, arguing that the paratroopers had crossed the border “by mistake.” In addition, President Vladimir Putin claimed this week that Russia would do “everything to support the peace process” in Ukraine.
Ukraine crisis: rebels seize key coastal town as they open new front near Russia, 27 August 2014, By Roland Oliphant, The Telegraph, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ukraine/11060054/Ukraine-crisis-rebels-seize-key-coastal-town-as-they-open-new-front-near-Russia.html
Ukraine says Russian armored vehicles pouring across border, 27 August 2014, by Carol J. Williams, The Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/world/europe/la-fg-ukraine-russia-new-front-20140827-story.html