Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko today said he is ready for ‘total war’ against Russia as he claimed the crisis in eastern Europe is more serious than the threat from Islamic State. Kiev is convinced that Moscow is strengthening its troop presence on its borders and inside rebel-held areas, which the Kremlin has repeatedly denied. As Putin returned from the G20 in Brisbane where he was under siege from Western leaders, Poroshenko claimed his army is now better prepared to fight to defend its territory than when the conflict began.
Germans were confronted with images of their country’s dark past on Monday night, when German public broadcaster ZDF showed video of Ukrainian soldiers with Nazi symbols on their helmets in its evening newscast. In a report on the fragile cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, Moscow correspondent Bernhard Lichte used pictures of a soldier wearing a combat helmet with the “SS runes” of Hitler’s infamous black-uniformed elite corps. A second soldier was seen with a swastika on his gear.
A column of Russian tanks and armored vehicles has crossed into southeastern Ukraine, away from where most of the intense fighting has been taking place, a top Ukrainian official said Monday. Col. Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security Council, told reporters that the column of 10 tanks, two armored vehicles and two trucks crossed the border near Shcherbak and that the nearby city of Novoazovsk was shelled during the night from Russia.
Ukraine declared on Friday that Russia had launched a “direct invasion” of its territory after Moscow sent a convoy of aid trucks across the border into eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian rebels are fighting government forces. Moscow, which has thousands of troops close to the Russian side of the border, warned against any attempt to “disrupt” the convoy it said was a purely humanitarian operation; but it did not say what action it might take if Kiev’s military intervened. The European Union urged Russia to reverse what it called a clear violation of the Ukrainian border.