Tag Archives: #UnitedForUkraine

We need to tell the truth about what Russia is doing in Ukraine #Putin #RussiainvadedUkraine

Nato must face up to the realities of Putin’s war of aggression in eastern Europe – and take material steps to support Ukraine. 

.Putin's Soviet RussiaPutin’s Soviet Russia © shoutout2day.com

As the Ukraine crisis has intensified over the past six months, Russia has been developing a new form of warfare – inserting special forces, provoking, and slowly, deliberately escalating the conflict. Russian actions flout international law and the agreements that have assured stability in the post-cold war world. But warnings and sanctions have thus far failed. The Nato summit in Wales this week offers the best, and perhaps last, opportunity to halt aggression in Europe without major commitments of Nato forces. But to do so requires a deeper understanding of the situation and much more resolute allied action.

First, Vladimir Putin’s actions against Ukraine haven’t been “provoked”. They are part of a long-term plan to recreate a greater Russia by regaining control of Ukraine and other states in the “near abroad”. Russia is not going to admit that it has invaded because to do so might invite a stronger Nato response. But until Nato governments unambiguously label Russian actions “aggression” and “invasion”, they will have difficulty mustering support for the stronger actions that needs to be taken.

Putin is not likely to be dissuaded by stronger sanctions; while they may disrupt some elements of the Russian economy, and he would of course prefer not to face them, he also uses sanctions himself to strengthen his leverage over those sectors most engaged with the west, and to gain sympathy from his own “electorate”.

Nato must act decisively to strengthen member states that feel threatened by Putin’s actions. Its forces should be permanently stationed in the Baltics, Poland and eastern Balkans. Its rapid reaction forces should be bolstered. Additionally, more demanding military exercises should be held. Nato’s nuclear deterrent must be re-emphasised. Long overdue modernisation should be undertaken. All this requires greater resources, including budget and manpower.

But these are the relatively easy steps. Even if undertaken – and they will take months and years to be implemented – they are unlikely to halt the growing threat, nor will they prevent the demoralisation of our friends in eastern Europe. As we like to say in America, “this is not their first rodeo”. They understand that aggressors are strengthened by their successes. And they know that today Ukraine is fighting on Nato’s periphery for the very same values of freedom, self-government and democracy that Nato espouses. They are asking themselves how courageous Nato will be, confronting a renewed Russian threat, if Nato nations today fear to provide information, military advice and assistance to an independent European state of 45 million fighting a defensive battle merely to regain control its own territory. And, yes, it is open warfare in eastern Ukraine now.

The success of this Nato summit will be measured not simply by its declarations of intent to strengthen alliance members in eastern Europe but, perhaps more importantly, by its willingness to provide Ukraine with the diplomatic, economic and, most immediately, military assistance necessary.

True, there is no “military” solution to Ukraine. The only solution is diplomatic: Putin must be persuaded to cease and desist. But, as we are learning, that persuasion requires not only diplomacy and sanctions, but also assisting Ukraine in creating the military means to defeat Russia’s new war strategy.

Information, training, military advice and hardware provided now will likely save thousands of lives and billions of dollars in the future. This is the time to speak the truth about Russian aggression and to act resolutely in aiding Ukraine to halt it.

The Guardian.

Tension high in Ukrainian border towns menaced by Russian forces #RussiainvadedUkraine #Russia #Ukraine

Russian soldiers are nowhere to be seen in city captured by rebels, but locals insist that the Kremlin’s troops led the advance.

Shaun Walker in Mariupol and Alec Luhn in Novoazovsk.A Pro-Russia rebel walks at the Novoazovsk border crossing point, in eastern Ukraine.</em> Photograph: Sergei Grits/APA Pro-Russia rebel walks at the Novoazovsk border crossing point, in eastern Ukraine. Photograph: Sergei Grits/AP

As Ukraine’s president told an EU summit in Brussels that there were now “thousands” of Russian troops operating in his country, they had all but disappeared from view in the eastern town that has been the flashpoint for invasion claims.

Novoazovsk, not far from the border with Russia and miles away from other areas controlled by separatists, was captured by an armoured column on Wednesday evening that appeared to cross from Russia, and there were several reported sightings of similar “little green men” to those who appeared prior to the annexation of Crimea: well-equipped troops without insignia who appeared to be from elite Russian units immediately stood out from the ragtag fighters of the separatist militias.

On Saturday, however, there was no sign of these troops in or around the town, as rebel fighters settled in and the green men apparently retreated. It left locals, the Ukrainian government and world leaders wondering whether the seizure of Novoazovsk had been part of a major new offensive that could see Russian-backed forces take the city of Mariupol and perhaps even open a land corridor to Crimea, or whether it was more of a poker move by the Russians and the rebels, an attempt to create panic before retreating to their previous positions.

The rebel commander in Novoazovsk – who goes by the nickname Swat – said his men were Ukrainians, mostly from the Luhansk region, and that he was a former lieutenant-colonel in the Ukrainian special forces. Despite Ukrainian assertions that Russian artillery has been firing across the border to support the rebels, Swat said his men had not received any military support from Russia. He said they had moved south along the border, but not through Russian territory, to capture Novoazovsk.

However, local people said the initial assault had involved a different kind of soldier. A woman named Raisa said Russian troops, not rebels, had first taken the city. “My former husband was in the army for 26 years. I know soldiers when I see them. These were regular troops … from Russia,” she said, as she milked her two cows along the roadside.

On Saturday, grey-haired men in camouflage were working on a rusty tank flying the red-and-blue flag of Novorossiya, a historical area along the southern coast of Ukraine conquered by the Russian empire, which rebels say they are trying to resurrect as an independent government. The area encompassed a huge swath of Ukraine, reaching as far west as Odessa.

Kremlin-watchers noted one point in particular in Vladimir Putin’s statements in recent days. Not only did the Russian president say the Ukrainian army tactics were reminiscent of the Nazis, but he also referred in an address to “the militias of Novorossiya”, causing concern that the Kremlin’s strategy now involves creating a kind of “breakaway state” encompassing a large area of south and east Ukraine. This would also give Russia a land corridor to Crimea which, since annexation by Russia, has only been accessible to mainland Russia by aircraft or by a ferry crossing across a congested strait.

Putin and Russia have called for an immediate ceasefire in the region, and for the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, to negotiate with the pro-Russia leaders in the east, but Kiev has branded them “terrorists” and wants to re-establish control over the areas rather than let a de facto independent statelet spring up. Since peace talks between Putin and Poroshenko yielded little concrete progress on Tuesday, the Russian activity on the ground appears to have intensified.

European politicians have struggled to formulate a response to Putin’s actions in Ukraine, with no appetite for a military confrontation, but several rounds of sanctions have apparently only strengthening the Kremlin’s resolve. Nevertheless a number of politicians have said that a further round of sanctions will be in the offing if Russian policy does not change.

“What’s happening in Ukraine is so serious that the European Council will be obliged to react by increasing the level of sanctions if things remain as they are,” said the French president, François Hollande, on Saturday as he arrived for an EU summit in Brussels.

Poroshenko was given a warm welcome at the summit and at a news conference claimed that there were now hundreds of tanks and thousands of troops from Russia inside Ukraine. He gave mixed signals over hopes for de-escalation and said he expected to see progress towards peace in the coming weeks, but added that the need for peace was so great because “we are too close to the border from where it would be no return to the peace plan”.

The immediate question is whether an assault on Mariupol is forthcoming, or whether the talk of it is psychological warfare from the Russian side.

“We will help the locals start a rebellion and then move forward,” said Swat in Novoazovsk, claiming that rebel forces had virtually surrounded Mariupol and were waiting to attack. They would create a corridor to his home city of Odessa, he said. However, a drive along the roads outside Mariupol proved repeated rumours that rebel forces had surrounded the city to be false on Saturday.

As on previous days, at the edge of Mariupol on the road from Novoazovsk, soldiers and volunteers dug trenches near a Ukrainian military checkpoint. The defences, however, seemed more psychological than physical, with a nearby sliproad left unguarded and no visible major defence force in the area.

Columns of Ukrainian armoured personnel carriers and other military vehicles drove into Mariupol on Friday and Saturday, but it remained unclear whether the Ukrainians would actually fight for the city if there was a well-coordinated advance. A commander of the Azov battalion, a volunteer outfit helping the Ukrainian army defend the city, said he had information from Ukrainian security services that between five and 10 “curators” from Russian military intelligence were in Mariupol to coordinate pro-Russia forces in the event that a takeover of the city did take place.

Mariupol has its share of Ukrainian patriots, as was demonstrated in a pro-Kiev rally earlier in the week. It also has a number of separatist supporters, many of whom turned out to back independence for the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic in a referendum in May, when the town was under separatist control.

But by now most residents, as in much of the region, are suspicious of both Kiev and the separatists and simply want the uncertainty and violence to stop. “It might seem calm here, but in our hearts we are not calm,” said Artur Kovtun, a 47-year-old resident of Mariupol. “Everyone is tired of this. A lot of people here support the separatists. We wanted to be part of Russia earlier in the year, but now we just want this stress to end.”


22 February: President Viktor Yanukovych flees Kiev after snipers kill protesters in central Kiev.

27-8 February: Gunmen seize buildings in Crimean capital Simferopol. In coming weeks more “little green men” appear; Moscow denies they are Russian troops.

18 March: Putin signs bill to absorb Crimea into Russia, two days after a referendum gives alleged 97% backing for it.

7 April: Government buildings seized in eastern Ukraine.

15 April: Kiev announces the start of an “anti-terrorist operation” against pro-Russia elements in the east.

2 May: Clashes in Odessa between pro-Russia and pro-Ukraine groups leave 42 people dead, most of them pro-Russia activists burned to death when the trade union building where they had barricaded themselves caught fire. Russia describes the deaths as a massacre.

11 May: Donetsk and Luhansk regions hold referendums and declare independence, but recognition from Moscow is not forthcoming.

25 May: Petro Poroshenko elected Ukraine’s president.

26-7 May: Battle at Donetsk airport kills at least 40 separatists dead.

5 July: Rebels abandon stronghold of Slavyansk after fierce fighting. Ukrainian forces make gains, but at the cost of mounting civilian casualties.

17 July: MH17 airliner shot down over east Ukraine, apparently by rebels.

30 July: Fresh round of EU sanctions against Russia.

26 August: Ukraine releases video of Russian paratroopers. Russia says they entered Ukraine “by accident”.

27-28 August: Rebels take town of Novoazovsk.

The Guardian.

Full transcript: Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Perm. Rep. to the #UN, at Security Council Session on #Ukraine

U.S. Representative to the United Nations Samantha Power.U.S. Representative to the United Nations Samantha Power.

Below is the full transcript of remarks made by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at a Security Council Session on Ukraine, August 28, 2014.

Mr. President, representatives on this Council, this is our 24th session to try to rein in Russia’s aggressive acts in Ukraine. Every single one of those sessions has sent a straight-forward, unified message: Russia, stop this conflict. Russia is not listening.

We said it when Russia flagrantly violated international law in occupying Crimea. We said it after the shocking downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17, which took the lives of innocent men, women, children, and infants from 11 countries. And we say it today, as Russia’s soldiers, tanks, air defense, and artillery support and fight alongside separatists as they open a new front in a crisis manufactured in and fueled by Russia.

But Russia is not listening.

Instead of listening, instead of heeding the demands of the international community and the rules of the international order, at every step, Russia has come before this Council to say everything except the truth. It has manipulated. It has obfuscated. It has outright lied. So we have learned to measure Russia by its actions and not by its words.

In the last 48 hours, Russia’s actions have spoken volumes.

On August 26 – just this Tuesday – after meeting with Ukrainian President Poroshenko in Minsk, Belarus, President Putin spoke of the need to quote “end bloodshed as soon as possible.” End quote. Yet the same day, satellite imagery show(s) Russian combat units – combat units – southeast of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine. That same day in Luhansk, Ukraine detained regular Russian Army personnel from the 9th brigade.

In response, Russia claimed the soldiers had wandered into Ukrainian territory “by mistake.” This, supposedly, in a time of conflict along one of the most carefully watched borders in the world.

The day after those talks, Russia fired Grad rockets from inside Russia at Ukrainian positions in Novoazovsk, and then attacked with two columns of Russian armored vehicles and tanks. Russian armored vehicles and Uragan multiple rocket launchers are positioned on the outskirts of that town as we speak.

Russia’s force along the border is the largest it has been since it began redeploying forces there in late May, and includes significant numbers of combat aircraft and helicopters. Russian unmanned aircraft routinely cross into Ukrainian airspace.

Other Russian deployments into Ukrainian territory include advanced artillery and air defense systems not found in the Ukrainian inventory. These artillery systems have shelled Ukrainian positions outside Luhansk City in conjunction with the recent separatist counteroffensive.

One of the separatist leaders that Russia has armed and backed said openly that three or four thousand Russian soldiers have joined their cause. He was quick to clarify that these soldiers were on vacation. But a Russian soldier who chooses to fight in Ukraine on his summer break is still a Russian soldier. And the armored Russian military vehicle he drives there is not his personal car.

Meanwhile, in Russia, family members of Russian soldiers are holding funerals for their loved ones who have been killed in the fighting in Ukraine. They’re demanding answers for how they were killed. Journalists who try to cover these funerals are harassed and threatened by armed men. Yet, still, according to the Russian government, the soldiers were never there. They were never in Crimea either, until Russia announced that those soldiers who were never there had annexed Crimea.

The last 48 hours fit into a well-established pattern for Russia. Each step has paved the way for the one that followed. And yet in spite of all of these outrageous actions, Ukraine has repeatedly sought a political solution to this crisis. It has repeatedly sought a path to de-escalation. Despite this pattern, President Poroshenko showed up in Minsk to meet with President Putin. In contrast, President Putin was still unwilling to acknowledge the most basic facts we all know: that Russia has armed, equipped, and now joined illegal separatists fighting in Ukraine. Serious negotiations are needed, urgently needed. But Russia has to stop lying and has to stop fueling this conflict.

The mask is coming off. In these acts – these recent acts – we see Russia’s actions for what they are: a deliberate effort to support, and now fight alongside, illegal separatists in another sovereign country.

Now, Russia has claimed that Ukraine is not interested in a ceasefire, but let’s be clear: we have every interest in a ceasefire, as do the Ukrainians, as long as it is a real one. But Russian separatists not only have no interest in observing a ceasefire, but they cynically use the time to rearm and wait for additional soldiers and supplies to flow across the border from Russia.

In the face of these deeply alarming actions, the most important question for us now is not what we should say to Russia. The most important question is what we should do to make Russia listen.

The United States has, throughout this crisis, and in close coordination with our European partners, the EU and the G7, exerted targeted, effective pressure so that this message is heard, so that Russia begins to de-escalate, rather than escalate, so that the reasonable peace plan put forward by President Poroshenko is adopted and implemented. And in the face of Russia’s continued aggression and blatant disregard for the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, we will continue to work closely with our G7 and European partners to ratchet up the consequences on Russia.

Now, I understand that there are real costs felt by citizens of countries when their governments take these actions. It has costs for businesses that trade with Russia and sell to Russian markets, from small-scale farmers to big factories. Those costs are considerable, and nobody should take them lightly.

But let’s be clear: if unchecked, the damage that Russia’s blatant disregard for the international order poses is much, much greater. These rules and principles that have taken generations to build, with unparalleled investment – countless lives have been lost to establish and defend these principles. And every single one of us has a stake in defending them. A threat to the order – the international order – is a threat to all of our peace and security.

These are the rules that Russia is flouting when it illegally seizes territory and arms, equips, and fights alongside illegal groups in neighboring countries.

Ukraine is one of roughly a dozen countries that share a border with Russia. Let me close with a couple questions: How can we tell those countries that border Russia that their peace and sovereignty is guaranteed if we do not make our message heard on Ukraine? Why should they believe it will be different if tomorrow, President Putin decides to start supporting armed separatists and allowing soldiers “on vacation” to fight in their countries? And, just as important, what message are we sending to other countries with similarly alarming ambitions around the world, when we let Russia violate these rules without sufficient consequences? In the face of this threat, the cost of inaction is unacceptable.

Thank you.

The Washington Post.

Vladimir #Putin is ‘dragging West towards new Cold #War with illegal invasion of #Ukraine

David Cameron spoke out as Nato said Russia had sent 1,000 heavily armed troops to join separatists in a “significant escalation” in “military interference”.

By James Lyons.Prisoners: A group of Russian servicemen detained by Ukrainian authorities.Prisoners: A group of Russian servicemen detained by Ukrainian authorities.

David Cameron has accused Vladimir Putin of provoking the West with an illegal invasion of Ukraine.

He spoke out as Nato said Russia had sent 1,000 heavily armed troops to join separatists in a “significant escalation” in “military interference”.

One No10 insider said Russian president Putin had dragged the world “back to the Cold War”.

British troops are expected to start ­exercises in Poland for a US-led show of force to reassure Eastern European Nato countries.

And Mr Cameron will also push for fresh sanctions against Russia at an European Union meeting in Brussels on Saturday.

Loggerheads: David Cameron and Vladimir PutinLoggerheads: David Cameron and Vladimir Putin.

The Prime Minister said: “I’m extremely concerned by mounting evidence Russian troops have made large-scale incursions into South-Eastern Ukraine, completely ­disregarding the sovereignty of a neighbour.”

He also urged fellow leaders not to be fooled by Putin’s decision to take part in talks with Ukraine in Belarus.

Mr Cameron continued: “It is simply not enough to engage in talks in Minsk, while Russian tanks roll over the border into Ukraine.

“Such activity must cease immediately.”

But rebel leader ­Alexander ­Zakharchenko bizarrely insisted the Kremlin forces were on leave.

Shelled: Workers try to repair the gate of a bakery damaged during shellingShelled: Workers try to repair the gate of a bakery damaged during shelling.

He declared: “Among us are fighting, serving soldiers who would rather take their vacation, not on a beach, but with us, among brothers, who are fighting for their freedom.”

The UN ­Security Council held an emergency session to discuss the crisis.

But as Russia has a permanent seat, there was no prospect of the invasion being condemned.

Meanwhile, 15 civilians were killed as Ukraine troops shelled Donetsk, it was reported.

Today, Vladimir Putin snubbed a traditional greeting of bread and salt on his visit to Minsk because he feared assassination by poisoning, sources claimed.

Mirror Online.

Ukraine Regroups As Russia Attacks #RussiainvadedUkraine

 Ian Bateson, Oksana Grytsenko. Some of the 10 Russian paratroopers captured by Ukrainian forces near the Donetsk Oblast village of Dzerkalne, nearly 30 kilometers from the Russian border, appear at a press conference in Kyiv on Aug. 26. NATO estimates that more than 1,000 Russian troops have entered Ukraine to bolster Kremlin-backed proxies. Russian forces have overrun Novoazovsk near Mariupol, raising fears that Russia wants to take control of the entire southern Azov Sea coast all the way to Kremlin-occupied Crimea. A NATO summit will take place in Wales on Sept. 4-5. © AFPSome of the 10 Russian paratroopers captured by Ukrainian forces near the Donetsk Oblast village of Dzerkalne, nearly 30 kilometers from the Russian border, appear at a press conference in Kyiv on Aug. 26. NATO estimates that more than 1,000 Russian troops have entered Ukraine to bolster Kremlin-backed proxies. Russian forces have overrun Novoazovsk near Mariupol, raising fears that Russia wants to take control of the entire southern Azov Sea coast all the way to Kremlin-occupied Crimea. A NATO summit will take place in Wales on Sept. 4-5. © AFP

MARIUPOL, Ukraine — After a public handshake between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Minsk on Aug. 26, hopes for peace have vanished as Ukraine and its allies say Russia has sent more than 1,000 regular troops into the two easternmost oblasts of Ukraine.

Poroshenko accused Russia of instigating a “sharp aggravation” by having Russian military forces take the tactically important south eastern Ukrainian city of Novoazovsk. Military experts, meanwhile, believe the new offensive could be the beginning of an attempt to take over southeastern Ukraine and adjoin it with the Kremlin-occupied Crimean peninsula.

“To be sincere, the situation really is extremely difficult, and nobody is going to simplify it,” Poroshenko said on Aug. 28. “But it is under control, under enough control not to give way to panic, keep a cool head, common sense and a plan of our further actions.”

Oleg Odnorozhenko, deputy head of the Azov Battalion, whose Ukrainian fighters were involved in combat in Novoazovsk on Aug. 27, was more explicit: “This is clear that we have a full-scale Russian invasion.”

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk called for an emergency session of the United Nation’s Security Council to demand immediate action. A meeting was scheduled for 9 p.m. Kyiv time on Aug. 28, although Russia can veto any action.

“Ukraine can face and cope with the Russian-led terrorists and mercenaries supported by Russia,” Yatsenyuk said. “But it is very difficult to cope with the Russian army (Europe’s largest) and with Russia as a nuclear state armed to the teeth.”

Poroshenko, meanwhile, cancelled his scheduled visit to Turkey to meet with the National Security and Defense Council, saying “the president’s place is in Kyiv.”

Condemnation – but no call for specific action against Russia — came quickly from Ukraine’s Western allies. American ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt stated: “Russian troops are intervening directly in fighting on Ukrainian territory,” in a Twitter post. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt suggested that was happening now is outright war, saying that “we are now evidently seeing fighting between regular Russian and regular Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine. There is a word for this,” also posting on Twitter. However, a European Union official said additional sanctions will not be considered against Russia at the next summit on Aug. 30.

Earlier on Aug. 28, the Ukrainian Security and Defense Council confirmed that the Donetsk Oblast city of Novoazovsk and surrounding villages had been captured by Russian forces.

Russia has denied sending in its own official military, but issued the same denials going back to Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimean militarily by force starting on Feb. 27 – only to admit the presence of their forces after the March annexation was completed.

Prior to the new Russian offensive, Ukrainian forces were successfully regaining territory controlled by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. The Russian attack began on Aug. 27, when Ukrainian fighters in the Dnipro-1 volunteer battalion say Russian armored columns entered Ukrainian territory, forcing Ukrainian forces to retreat. The Russians took the city of Novoazovsk, with 12,000 people, on the Azov Sea.

“First there was just shelling from their territory across the border, but then they rushed forward,” a tall bearded fighter with a nom de guerre of “the Jew” told the Kyiv Post. “There were no (separatist Donetsk People’s Republic) people among them. They were all Russians.”

The Ukrainian fighters said that Russian forces entered Ukraine with tanks, howitzers and rocket launchers while being supported by cross-border artillery fire originating from Russia.

Lacking heavy weaponry, the Ukrainian forces including soldiers, border guards and volunteer battalions had to retreat. “We are asking to reinforce us with aviation or artillery, but the artillery was too far away, and the aviation is scared to fly as the Russians have anti-aircraft air defense systems,” the Jew said.Kyiv Post+ is a special project covering Russia's war against Ukraine and the aftermath of the EuroMaidan Revolution.Kyiv Post+ is a special project covering Russia’s war against Ukraine and the aftermath of the EuroMaidan Revolution.

Being outgunned by increasingly well-outfitted forces from Russia has been a growing issue for Ukrainian forces. “Without weapons, battalions cannot be effective,” Dnipro-1 battalion commander Vladimir Shilov said at a news conference in Kyiv, calling on the Interior Ministry to provide them with heavier weapons.

More than 1,000 protesters gathered outside of the General Staff building, where Ukraine’s military headquarters is located, in Kyiv on Aug. 28 to demand heavy weapons for soldiers and other changes in the military upper brass.

Currently, Ukrainian fighters say Russian forces are setting up Smerch launch rocket systems in Novoazovsk and aiming them at the Ukrainian-held city of Mariupol.

The self-proclaimed leader of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, has made it clear that taking control of Mariupol, a port city with nearly 500,000 residents, is a priority. It is the largest city under government control in Donetsk Oblast, home to 10 percent – or 4.5 million – of Ukraine’s population.

In the village of Bezimenne, which means “no name” in Ukrainian, some 14 kilometers from Novoazovsk, there were dozens of fighters from the Dnipro 1 and Azov battalions lingering on Aug. 28, just watching Russian troops. Driving their shabby cars they claim they have no means to fight back if the Russians decide to approach. Ukraine’s fighters said that Russian soldiers were attacking their counterparts who didn’t retreat from Novoazovsk quickly enough.

“There are no regular Ukrainian army here, they all moved to Mariupol,” said Volodymyr, fighter of Dnipro 1, a man in his 40s who used to be Dnipropetrovsk businessman before the war.

Volodymyr added that some soldiers are still fleeing Novoazovsk in small groups along the fields and forests, and when detected by Russian they are being shelled.

The pro-Ukrainian fighters say hundreds of Russian soldiers and dozens of Russian tanks are now present in Novoazovsk.

Mariupol residents have begun to flee amid fears of an approaching assault, with refugees from war-torn Donetsk, Horlivka and Illovaisk forced to flee again and with civilians allowed to leave the city but not enter.

At the checkpoint on the way to Novoazovsk, the Kyiv Post saw soldiers digging trenches and preparing anti-tank barriers still decorated with floral ornaments from Ukraine’s recent Independence Day celebrations.

Several people were killed in Mariupol in April when the pro-Ukrainian fighters pushed separatists out of the city, but has been largely peaceful since.

The presence of Russian forces escalates the war significantly.

A day before Putin and Poroshenko met in Minsk on Aug. 26, the Security Service of Ukraine announced the capture of 10 Russian soldiers driving military vehicles some 14 kilometers inside Ukraine. A Russian Defense Ministry source said they had entered Ukraine by mistake. In a video, one detained soldier said he had never been told they were entering Ukraine.

“I did not see where we crossed the border. They just told us we were going on a 70-kilometer march over three days,” said a man who identified himself as Ivan Milchakov, who also said he was based in the Russian city of Kostroma.

“My vehicle was hit and blown up,” said Ivan Romantsev. “Then I understood it was not just a military exercise and I got scared.  Now I understand we were sent to fight people we shouldn’t have been fighting.”

In Russia, relatives of the soldiers asked why the soldiers were never told they were entering a war zone and why journalists investigating the graves of freshly buried paratroopers have been attacked.

In Ukraine, the so-called “stealth war” continues with all the elements of a traditional war except for a formal declaration.

In the city Urzuf, on the Azov Sea shore, Azov battalion deputy head Odnorozhenko, waits. “Russia has no chances to win this war,” he said. “The only question is what price Ukraine will pay for the victory.”

Kyiv Post.