Russia has deported several Polish and one German diplomat in recent days, the latest in a series of tit-for-tat expulsions that have accompanied mounting tensions between Russia and European governments over the crisis in Ukraine. In an interview with German ARD television broadcast late Sunday, President Vladimir Putin of Russia said he still believes diplomacy can bring peace to eastern Ukraine, but he said Moscow would not allow the separatists there to be “annihilated.” The Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday that “a number of Polish diplomats” were being sent home in retaliation for the “unfriendly and unfounded” expulsion of Russian diplomats from Poland this month.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned he won’t allow rebels in eastern Ukraine to be defeated by government forces as European Union ministers met to consider imposing more sanctions on the separatists. “You want the Ukrainian central authorities to annihilate everyone there, all of their political foes and opponents,” Putin said in an interview yesterday with Germany’s ARD television. “Is that what you want?
Ukraine’s military accused Russia on Friday of sending a column of 32 tanks and truckloads of troops into the country’s east to support pro-Russian separatists fighting government forces. Thursday’s cross-border incursion, if confirmed, is a significant escalation of a conflict that has killed more than 4,000 people since the separatists rose up in mid-April and would call into question Russia’s commitment to a two-month-old ceasefire deal. The truce has looked particularly fragile this week, with each side accusing the other of violations after separatist elections last Sunday condemned as illegitimate by the West.
Russian soldiers and Ukrainian soldiers are now shooting at each other in eastern Ukraine. Could this conflict ultimately lead us down the road to World War 3? This week, a very robust force of “tanks, artillery and infantry” has opened up a “third front” in the Ukrainian civil war in a part of southeastern Ukraine that had not seen much fighting yet.