Chechnya’s leader says the country hasn’t sent fighters to join rebels in eastern Ukraine, denying a charge that gained substance after Chechens were reportedly found in the aftermath of recent fighting in Donetsk. Ukraine is continuing its offensive against the rebels.
Ukraine’s President-elect Petro Poroshenko says he will crush the pro-Russian insurgency, promising to step up operations against armed men who have occupied buildings and set up barricades.
Poroshenko’s comments this week have coincided with an air and ground attack on the international airport in Donetsk, where dozens of pro-Russian militants were reportedly killed Monday and Tuesday.
A Ukrainian official accuses Moscow of “exporting terrorism” into Ukraine, as trucks of armed men crossed the border.
From Kiev, NPR’s Peter Kenyon reports for our Newscast unit:
“Chechen regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov issued a statement saying he didn’t send fighters to Ukraine, but that some Chechens may have gone on their own. Journalists in Donetsk report finding Chechens among the wounded from fighting at the Donetsk airport, which the government now controls again.
Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister says dozens of trucks barreled through the border carrying armed men and weapons. Danyloy Lubkivsky accuses Russia of waging an ‘unannounced war on Ukraine.’
” ‘Russia is exporting terrorism in the most brutal, unashamed manner possible. This needs to stop,’ he said.
“Moscow denies the charge, and demands that Kiev halt its military operation immediately.”
Hoping to strengthen Ukraine’s military, incoming leader Poroshenko has promised to give soldiers a raise. Kyiv Post reports that Poroshenko made the pledge just before the election, saying that army volunteers would get $83 a day rather than $50 a month; they would also be eligible for life insurance under his plan.
President Obama congratulated Poroshenko on his victory Tuesday, offering “the full support of the United States as he seeks to unify and move his country forward,” according to a White House statement.