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
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement