Ukraine plans to spend billions upgrading army
Published 25/08/2014 | 02:30
The president of Ukraine has used his country's Independence Day to promise lavish spending to modernise the armed forces, in a speech which coincided with shelling in the troubled east.
Petro Poroshenko unveiled the €2.2bn of new funds in an attempt to see off what he described as a constant military threat from Russia. But even as he was speaking of resolve and unity to the soldiers and sailors in Kiev's independence square, rebels in the east were staging a counter march - parading captured vehicles and prisoners of war through the streets of Donetsk.
Dozens of prisoners were force-marched through the streets after a loudspeaker announced a parade of "people who were sent to kill us".
Some in combat clothing and battered boots, others in tracksuits and trainers, the men all looked down at their feet as they were marched through the streets at bayonet point, their hands bound behind their backs.
A correspondent at the scene said some members of the public shouted "fascists" and threw bottles at the prisoners, who were followed by street cleaning vehicles to cleanse symbolically the road where they had walked, a deliberate recreation of a World War Two-era parade of German prisoners by Stalin.
The rebels, who are fighting for unification with Russia, claimed to have encircled a large Ukrainian force yesterday, while separatist websites announced counter-offensives in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
And 370 miles to the west, in Kiev, Mr Poroshenko summed up the continuing conflict as "the patriotic war of 2014".
He promised to spend 40bn hryvnia (€2.2bn) on a two-year overhaul of the armed forces beginning next year that will see the procurement of ships, aircraft and vehicles.
"The events of the last months have for us turned into a real war, albeit an undeclared one," he said. "The world seems to be back in the 1930s of the last century: on the eve of the Second World War. The centenary of the First World War was less than a month ago. Other wars must not be allowed."
The parade included troops in dress uniform and men in camouflage gear purportedly about to head to the front lines in eastern Ukraine.
Mr Poroshenko is to meet Vladimir Putin face to face tomorrow, amid growing speculation that Western governments may be seeking to broker a deal between Kiev and Moscow. (© Daily Telegraph, London)