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Moscow could intervene “defend” the rebels – Ukraine conflict

Moscow could intervene "defend" the rebels

Moscow could intervene “defend” the rebels

A top Russian official has warned that Moscow could intervene

to help its citizens in eastern Ukraine as tensions rise in the region.

Sporadic fighting has increased in the Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine,

with clashes between Russian-backed separatist rebels and Ukrainian troops.

Russia has been building up troops on the border with Ukraine.

The official, Dmitry Kozak, told a Moscow conference, that Russian forces

could intervene to “defend” the rebels. “Everything depends on the scale

of the conflagration,” he said. Ukraine’s Donbas has been a flashpoint

since the separatists seized swathes of territory in 2014.

Low-level clashes between the rebels and Ukrainian forces have broken

out in recent weeks. Each side accuses the other of violating a ceasefire.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the region on Thursday

to see “the locations of the escalation” and “be with our soldiers in the

tough times in Donbas”.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on Russia to reduce its

military presence on the border with Ukraine.


In Moscow, Mr Kozak likened the current situation of the separatists

to Srebrenica, the town in Bosnia-Hercegovina where 8,000 Muslim men

were killed by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995.

“If, as our president says, there is a Srebrenica there, we shall probably

have to come to their defence,” Mr Kozak said. He is the deputy head

of Russia’s presidential administration.

 Moscow could intervene "defend" the rebelss
Moscow could intervene “defend” the rebels
Russian President Vladimir Putin first suggested in 2019 that Russian

speaking residents might suffer a Srebrenica-like massacre if Ukraine

regained fullcontrol of Donbas without guarantees. But there have been

no reports of any such atrocity being planned. Mr Kozak suggested

the rebels  could hold their own for now against Ukrainian forces

as they consisted of “battle-hardened units”. He also warned

Ukraine not to increase hostilities against the rebels, saying it would

be the “beginning of the end” for the country. At the same time,

he urged calm and stability. Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s

Crimea region in 2014 and support for the separatists in Donbas

have been a long-running sore in relations between the two countries.

Western countries condemned Moscow over its actions at the

time and imposed sanctions.

Russia denies sending troops to the Donbas region and characterizes

Russian fighters there as “volunteers”. The US put its forces in Europe

on a higher level of alert last week and President Joe Biden re-affirmed

his support for Ukraine’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

In the latest sign of tension, the rebels said one of their fighters was

killed on Thursday when Ukrainian troops fired 14 mortar bombs at a

village on the outskirts of the city of Donetsk. Ukraine says 25 of its

soldiers have been killed in the conflict so far this year.

Chancellor Merkel spoke to Mr Putin on the phone on Thursday and

called on Russia to “de-escalate tensions” by reducing its troop

reinforcements. In the same call, Mr Putin accused Ukraine of inflaming

the situation in the east.

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