Russia troops still operating in east Ukraine: NATO commander
Iran Press TV
Wed Nov 26, 2014 4:31PM GMT
NATO's top military commander says Russian troops are still operating in the volatile eastern parts of Ukraine.
Russian forces are providing the "backbone" to pro-Moscow activists fighting the Ukrainian government troops, General Philip Breedlove, NATO's supreme allied commander, said in a press conference in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, on Wednesday.
Breedlove further warned of what he described as Russia's military build-up in the strategic Crimean Peninsula, which joined the Russian Federation eight months ago.
"We are very concerned with the militarization of Crimea," he said, adding, "The capabilities that are being installed in Crimea will bring an effect on almost the entire Black Sea."
Breedlove's remarks came on the same day that Russia's Defense Ministry announced the deployment of 14 military jets to Crimea as part of a squadron of 30 due to be stationed on the peninsula.
The NATO commander was in Kiev to hold talks with Ukraine's leaders over the ongoing crisis in the former Soviet state.
Crimea's integration into Russia in March sparked angry reactions from the United States and the European Union, both of which imposed several rounds of punitive measures against Moscow, targeting Russia's banking, energy and defense sectors. Moscow, for its part, imposed retaliatory bans.
Ukraine's mainly Russian-speaking parts in the east have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since mid-April.
Kiev and its Western allies accuse Moscow of having a hand in the chaotic situation in eastern Ukraine. Russia denies the allegation as baseless.
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