Radio Free Europe on August 6, 2014, reported that Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry says NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen will visit Kyiv, amid heightened tensions over allegations Moscow is massing troops along the Ukrainian border. Excerpts below:
The ministry said in a statement that the August 7 visit, at the invitation of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, is intended to discuss an upcoming meeting on the NATO-Ukraine partnership.
Earlier on August 6, NATO said a Russian force buildup near the Ukrainian border amounted to some 20,000 troops.
In a statement, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said Moscow could use the excuse of a humanitarian or peacekeeping mission to send them into Ukraine.
Also on August 6, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said he had received information “in the last several hours” suggesting the threat of direct Russian military intervention in Ukraine is “higher than it was several days ago.”
On August 4, Moscow announced what it said were military training exercises in central and western Russia, including all areas where Russia shares a border with Ukraine.
Former Polish dissident Adam Michnik has likened Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions regarding Ukraine to Adolf Hitler’s annexation of the German-speaking part of Czechoslovakia in 1938. The veteran of Poland’s anticommunist opposition told RFE in Warsaw that Europe should find ways to “stop Putin” despite potential economic costs.
Heavy fighting was reported overnight within the city of Donetsk, including air strikes by Ukrainian planes on transportation infrastructure.
Ukrainian forces have effectively encircled the city, which is the headquarters for the separatists’ self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic.”
Correspondents in Donetsk report that residents who have remained in the city were bracing for an expected ground assault.
A government spokesman in Kyiv said fierce clashes with pro-Russian rebels had left 18 soldiers dead over the past 24 hours. Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for Kyiv’s National Security and Defense Council, said 54 soldiers had been injured.
The pro-Russian separatists now control less than 10 percent of the territory that makes up Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast, having lost large swaths of land to government forces during the last six weeks.