Kiev yesterday accused Moscow of seeking to trigger a “third world war” as military tensions soared in east Ukraine and US President Barack Obama led a diplomatic charge against Russia.
A rocket-propelled grenade blew up a Ukrainian military helicopter sitting on the tarmac at a base near the eastern town of Kramatorsk, officials in Kiev said. The pilot escaped, but was wounded.
The brazen attack by the insurgents came amid an army offensive to dislodge pro-Kremlin gunmen who are holding a string of eastern towns.
Kiev yesterday announced that its forces were now seeking to “blockade” rebels inside another flashpoint town, Slavyansk, to prevent militant reinforcements arriving.
On Thursday, Ukrainian armored vehicles and commandos had made a brief, but dramatic incursion into Slavyansk, killing one 22-year-old insurgent. Russia responded by ordering its troops massed on Ukraine’s border to launch a new military exercise.
Ramping up the Cold War-style rhetoric, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Russia of trying to spark a global conflict.
“The world hasn’t forgotten the Second World War and Russia wants to start a third world war,” he said.