Wed, Aug 27, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Ukrainian and Russian leaders meet on crisis


The presidents of Russia and Ukraine held key talks yesterday with little hopes for a breakthrough in resolving the raging conflict pitting Kiev against pro-Moscow separatist rebels.

Hours before the crunch talks, Kiev ratcheted up tensions by releasing footage purporting to show 10 Russian soldiers captured on its territory who a Moscow military source said had crossed into Ukraine “by accident.”

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Minsk for a meeting with top EU officials and the leaders of Kazakhstan and Belarus, in a bid to defuse tensions that some fear could trigger all-out war between Kiev and its former Soviet master, Moscow.

US National Security Adviser Susan Rice accused Russia of “military incursions” into Ukraine using artillery, air defense systems, tanks and troops, which she said represented a “significant escalation” in the conflict.

“Repeated Russian incursions into Ukraine unacceptable. Dangerous and inflammatory,” she wrote on Twitter.

Kiev’s security service said paratroopers from Russia’s 98th airborne division were captured about 50km southeast of the main rebel stronghold of Donetsk.

Ukrainian media yesterday aired footage purporting to show the captured Russian paratroopers confessing to entering Ukraine in armored convoys.

“We traveled here in columns, not along the roads, but across the fields,” says one of the men who identifies himself as corporal Ivan Milchakov from the 331st Parachute Regiment based in central Russia. “I didn’t even see when we crossed the border.”

Kiev has long accused Moscow of stoking the separatist insurgency raging in its east, but this is the first time Ukrainian authorities have claimed to have captured soldiers from Russia’s regular army.

“Officially, they are at exercises in various corners of Russia. In reality, they are participating in military aggression against Ukraine,” Ukrainian Minister of Defense Valeriy Geletey said on Facebook.

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