1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

NATO: Russia arming separatists

November 12, 2014

NATO has accused Russia of sending fresh columns of tanks, troops and military hardware into Ukraine. Kyiv has announced preparations for a return to combat in Ukraine’s war-torn east.

Image: Reuters/M. Zmeyev

The warning issued by Ukraine on Wednesday has fueled fears of a return to all-out conflict despite a two-month ceasefire deal that has halted fighting along much of the frontline but not stopped shelling at strategic flashpoints. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that the military buildup in eastern Ukraine would hurt everyone involved.

"In this situation, it makes sense to rearm in the region and to prepare for further military confrontation," Steinmeier said on Wednesday. "It helps no one. We just lose time."

Kyiv is making preparations and redeploying soldiers in response to fears of a new military offensive by separatist forces, Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak told a government meeting on Wednesday. The ceasefire agreement signed in Minsk in September has been repeatedly violated, and observers have expressed fears that the situation could slide back into all-out violence.

"I see my main task is to prepare for military action," Poltorak said, explaining that Ukraine was repositioning its armed forces to respond to the actions of the separatist fighters, which he said included receiving reinforcements. According to the AFP news agency, Poltorak described the current situation in the conflict area as "complicated but stable."

'No evidence#

Despite last month's ceasefire, Donetsk, the main separatist city in the east, has seen its heaviest shelling in recent weeks. Officials with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) will brief the UN Security Council on Wednesday afternoon.

The body has met well over a dozen times on Ukraine since the conflict erupted in spring, but taken little action as Russia has veto power. The conflict, in which an estimated 4,000 people have been killed since April, has seen relations between Russia and Europe and the United States deteriorate to their lowest point since the Cold War.

Donetsk has seen increased shelling in recent daysImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Russia has repeatedly denied arming the rebels, especially the most recent allegations by officials from NATO, the OSCE and Ukraine's central government. On Tuesday the Organization for Secutrity and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is monitoring the Ukraine situation, reported spotting an unmarked military convoy of 43 trucks in separatist-held territory and warned of the risk of further escalation.

On Wednesday, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman General-Major Igor Konashenkov said that "there was and is no evidence" behind such statements.

mkg/kms (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)