Ukrainian authorities claim over 200 rebels were killed in the east amid reports Russia sent 32 tanks, 16 howitzer cannons, and 30 trucks with Russian troops into the Luhansk region in Ukraine.
On November 6, Ukrainian forces killed several rebels at Donetsk airport. Ukraine’s Antiterrorist Operation (ATO) said the pro-Russians fired upon Ukraine’s army at the airport. Kiev controls the airport, but it is a “focus of persistent fighting despite a September 5 cease-fire.” The ATO also said the army damaged or destroyed military equipment.
But the small victory looks to be short lived, since Russia sent in reinforcements on Friday. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the invasion is a violation of the cease-fire truce from September. Poroshenko spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the situation. He told her the situation in the east is still escalating despite the truce. NATO condemned the move by Russia.
“If this crossing into Ukraine is confirmed it would be further evidence of Russia’s aggression and direct involvement in destabilizing Ukraine,” an anonymous NATO officer told Reuters.
However, Russia insists they supported the cease-fire.
“We support the continuation of the Minsk (the cease-fire agreement) process and advocate holding another meeting of the Contact Group (of negotiators),” said Kremlin foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov. “But not everything depends on us. There are a lot of factors.”
The tensions again rose after Sunday when the east held “elections” for leaders within the People’s Republic of Donetsk and People’s Republic of Luhansk. Kiev said the elections violated the agreement and revoked “a law that would have granted the rebel-held eastern regions much more autonomy and would have provided them with cash.” Ushakov did not say Russia recognizes the votes, but instead respects the alleged will of the people in the region. He insists it is not the same thing.
“These are different words,” said Ushakov. “The word ‘respect’ was chosen deliberately. We fundamentally respect the voters’ expression of will.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has not personally addressed the votes. However, he will attend two summits in Asia with numerous leaders from the West. He will first meet with International Monetary Fund Chief Christine Lagarde and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Beijing on November 10. A week later, Putin will meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande in Brisbane at the G20 summit.
There are no plans for Putin and President Barack Obama to meet one-on-one at either city. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet in Beijing on Saturday.