Kyiv Says Fighting In East Intensifies

By RFE/RLMay 28, 2016

The Ukrainian military says that fighting between government troops and Russia-backed separatists has intensified in eastern Ukraine.

Senior government official Andriy Lysenko said on May 28 that one soldier had been killed in recent fighting.

Russia-backed fighters have accused the army of carrying out dozens of attacks in recent days as both sides charge each other with not observing a ceasefire.

The uptick in violence saw a patrol from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission shot at in the Donetsk region on May 27.

The mission's chief monitor, Ertugrul Apakan, condemned the attack, in which nobody was injured.

Amid the increased violence, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has called for greater foreign assistance and has appointed former NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen as his adviser.

Rasmussen said on May 28 on Facebook that he will do his “utmost to promote security, economic reforms, and stronger EU ties” in his new capacity.

Poroshenko has not specified on what issues Rasmussen will be advising.

Rasmussen described the “security situation” in eastern Ukraine as “alarming.” He also said Ukraine must fight corruption and implement reforms.

Russian Duma member Leonid Kalashnikov, deputy chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, told Interfax that Rasmussen’s appointment was “a hostile gesture” toward Russia.

“It shows that Ukraine has chosen the West and NATO as the vector of its drifting movement,” he said, describing Ukraine as “a beachhead against Russia” that “will be used sooner or later.”

Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Facebook that Rasmussen’s appointment, like many other Ukrainian moves, is “for show” because “Ukraine badly needs…attention from the outside.”

With reporting by Interfax, TASS, and dpa