West to step up response to Russia’s ‘violation’ of Ukraine

 

brussels

European Union leaders are expected to move towards deeper economic sanctions against Moscow today, acting on mounting evidence of what the Nato chief has called a “blatant violation” of Ukrainian territory by Russian soldiers.

The UK will argue that Russia should be excluded from the Swift international banking system which will further disrupt Russian trade, a British official said.

Some EU politicians openly accused Russia of invading its neighbour, after Nato on Thursday released satellite imagery to back up claims that around 1,000 Russian troops are in Ukraine and providing support to separatist rebels fighting to create a breakaway state in the east.

“Despite Moscow’s hollow denials, it is now clear that Russian troops and equipment have illegally crossed the border into eastern and south-eastern Ukraine,” the Nato Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said after an emergency meeting of the alliance yesterday. “Russian forces are engaged in direct military operations inside Ukraine.”

He said the Kremlin was also still providing tanks, artillery and rocket launchers to separatist forces. “Moreover, Russia continues to maintain thousands of combat-ready troops close to Ukraine’s border: this is a blatant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

 

Russia has denied the claims, and yesterday President Vladimir Putin compared a Ukrainian government offensive to seize back rebel-held territory to “the events of the Second World War, when German fascists... surrounded our cities”.

 

Since April, the pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government troops have been locked in battle over key cities across the eastern industrial heartland. A UN report yesterday estimated that nearly 2,600 people had been killed. Fighting escalated this week when separatist forces opened a new front in the eastern town of Novoazovsk.

Officials in Kiev said yesterday 10 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in fresh fighting. The Ukrainian Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, said the country was planning to end its non-aligned status and apply for membership of Nato.

Any such move would further antagonise Russia, which is desperate to maintain its influence in the former Soviet bloc. But Mr Rasmussen said Nato would respect the decision by the Ukrainian parliament should it decide to move towards full membership.

The military alliance is also expected to announce plans for a rapid reaction force to assist its current members at its summit in Wales on Thursday and Friday, part of Nato’s beefed- up response to Russia’s recent aggression on Europe’s borders. Mr Rasmussen’s comments came a day ahead of a meeting of EU heads of government in Brussels, with Ukraine high on the agenda. In July, the 28 member states overcame considerable internal splits and imposed some sanctions on Russia’s defence and energy industries. The US took similar measures, while dozens of Ukrainians and Russians are also under travel bans and assets freezes.

However, the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, conceded that those sanctions have had little impact on Mr Putin. David Cameron is expected to go into the EU meeting today pushing for even harsher measures targeting the energy, defence and financial sectors.

The Swedish Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, said “we must call a spade a spade” and said the Russian actions over the past few days represented “the second Russian invasion of Ukraine within a year”. In March, Russian troops entered and annexed Crimea.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Automotive Service Advisor - Franchised Main Dealer

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful, family owned m...

Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive - West London - £35,000

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A luxury fashion retailer based in W...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Engineer - East Riding of Yorkshire

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Systems Engineer - East Riding of...

Recruitment Genius: IT Technician / Epos Engineer - Crayford

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This retail and hospitality til...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable