Ukraine Says Russian Officers Fighting Alongside Rebels as Moscow Reinforces Border

Ukraine Says Russian Officers Fighting Alongside Rebels as Moscow Reinforces Border

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko said Russian soldiers and officers are fighting next to the pro-Russian forces in east Ukraine. At the same time, NATO claimed Russia added more troops along the Ukraine border.

“In the past three days a new Russian missile system has been used against the armed forces of Ukraine,” he said. “Information has also been confirmed that Russian staff officers are taking part in military operations against Ukrainian forces.”

A military transport plane was shot down Monday in Luhansk, and Kiev claims the rocket came from Russian territory. The plane was allegedly flying at 6,500 meters where Defense Minister Colonel General Valery Heletey said it was too high to take down with ordinary weapons.

On Sunday, Russia accused Ukraine of firing a shell into Russian territory. It hit a house and killed one person and injured two others. However, National and Security Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko said the rebels fired the shell.

“The (rebel) fighters systematically fire mortar and shoot into Russian territory which killed a Russian citizen,” Lysenko told journalists.

Lysenko also said pro-Russians with Russian soldiers opened fire on border guards near the border in order to bring over weapons and supplies from Russia.

“In the past 24 hours, deployment of (Russian) units and military equipment across the border from the Sumy and Luhansk border points was noticed,” he said. “The Russian Federation continues to build up troops on the border.”

NATO claimed 10,000 – 12,000 Russian troops are near Ukraine’s border.

“Our current assessment is that between 10,000 and 12,000 troops are now in the area… In the last week alone, we have seen several units moving into the border region,” an anonymous officer told Reuters.

Russia placed 40,000 troops on Ukraine’s border in March after Parliament ousted Russia-backed President Viktor Yanukovych. NATO and the West put enormous pressure on Russia to pull back the troops, and Russian President Vladimir Putin did not make any moves until June. He only left 1,000 troops.