Wednesday 22 October 2014

Convoys of weapons from Russia move into rebel-held Ukraine

Published 25/08/2014 | 21:11

Smoke billows over a residential apartment houses following shelling in the area in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, early Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014. Ukraine has retaken control of much of its eastern territory bordering Russia in the last few weeks, but fierce fighting for the rebel-held cities of Donetsk and Luhansk persists. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Smoke billows over a residential apartment houses following shelling in the area in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, early Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014. Ukraine has retaken control of much of its eastern territory bordering Russia in the last few weeks, but fierce fighting for the rebel-held cities of Donetsk and Luhansk persists. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Convoys of military weaponry and supplies have been coming from the direction of Russia into rebel-held Ukraine, Associated Press reporters said.

Rebel fighters also described how Russian border guards did nothing to stop them.

Associated Press reporters in the eastern Ukrainian town of Krasnodon observed three such convoys last week.

Nato and Ukraine have accused Moscow outright of covertly shuttling heavy artillery and other weapons to the separatists.

Russia routinely denies the allegations.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's president today dissolved parliament and called for early elections in October as his country continues to battle a pro-Russian insurgency in its eastern regions.

President Petro Poroshenko announced in a statement posted on his website that he has dissolved parliament and called for snap elections on October 26.

He said the move was in coherence with the Ukrainian constitution, noting that the ruling coalition collapsed several weeks ago.

The announcement came a day ahead of a summit that includes both Mr Poroshenko and Russian president Vladimir Putin, and could be aimed at pressuring Ukraine into seeking a negotiated end to the conflict rather than a military victory.

Over the past month, Ukrainian forces have made substantial inroads against pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine, taking control of several sizeable towns and cities that had been under rebel control since April, when the clashes began.

But the advances have come at a high cost - more than 2,000 civilians reportedly killed and at least 726 Ukrainian servicemen. There is no independent figure for the number of rebel dead, although Ukrainian authorities said today that 250 rebels were in fighting around Olenivka, a town 15 miles south of Donetsk.

Press Association

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