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Ukraine: Russian forces in major rebel cities

Associated Press

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- A Ukrainian official said Tuesday that Russian forces have been spotted in both of the major rebel-held cities in eastern Ukraine.

The claim by Col. Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine's national security council, came as the country's defense minister said Ukraine's armed forces are expanding their strategy from just fighting separatist rebels to facing the Russian army in a war that could cost "tens of thousands" of lives.

Lysenko told reporters that Russian troops had been seen in the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as other locations throughout the east, but he did not give details and the claim could not be confirmed independently. Lysenko also said 15 servicemen had been killed over the previous day.

Ukraine Accuses Russia of

In Moscow, a Kremlin aide sharply criticized EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso for breaching confidentiality when he quoted President Vladimir Putin as saying Moscow could take over Kiev in two weeks, if it wished.

Yuri Ushakov, the Russian leader's foreign policy adviser, told reporters that Putin's statement was "taken out of context and carried a completely different meaning."

Ushakov lashed out at Barroso, saying it was a breach of diplomatic practices and "unworthy of a serious politician" to speak publicly about a private conversation.

Several European publications earlier this week cited diplomats quoting Barroso as saying that Putin had said in a private conversation that Russian forces could take over Ukraine's capital in two weeks' time, if they wished.

Putin's comment reportedly came in response to Barroso pointing out Ukrainian and Western claims that Russia had sharply escalated the conflict in eastern Ukraine by sending regular army units into Ukraine. NATO has estimated that at least 1,000 Russian soldiers have entered Ukraine, helping turn the tide in favor of pro-Russian insurgents.

Ushakov on Tuesday reaffirmed Moscow's denial that it has sent any soldiers in, even though a rebel leader said last week that Russian servicemen on official leave were among some 4,000 Russians fighting in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey said on his Facebook page Monday that the counter-insurgency operation is over and the nation's military is now facing the Russian army in a war that could cost "tens of thousands" of lives.

"This is our Great Patriotic War," he wrote, using the local terminology for World War II.

Russia's Foreign Ministry dismissed Heletey's remarks as "shocking" and accused him of making the statement in a bid to shift blame and keep his seat amid a series of defeats suffered by the Ukrainian military.

Pro-Russian rebels have been fighting Ukrainian government troops since mid-April in a conflict that has left more than 2,500 people dead. In recent weeks, the rebels have scored significant gains on the ground, launching an offensive along the coast of the Sea of Azov.

Efforts to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the hostilities, which followed the ouster of Ukraine's pro-Russian president and Russia's annexation of Crimea, have failed.

Representatives of Ukraine, Russia, pro-Russian rebels and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe made another attempt to reach an accord Monday in Minsk, the Belarusian capital. Rebels presented a negotiating platform that dropped their previous demand for full independence and expressed readiness to negotiate a settlement that would respect Ukraine's territorial integrity in exchange for a broad autonomy for eastern provinces.

The talks lasted several hours and were adjourned until Friday, when the parties are expected to discuss specifics of a possible cease-fire and a prisoners' exchange.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday urged the United States to use its influence in Ukraine to encourage efforts to reach a political settlement. "It's necessary to restrain the party of war in Kiev, and only the United States can do it," he said at a briefing.

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Join the discussion

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jdl0877 September 02 2014 at 8:26 AM

Remember when Obama mocked McCain about Russia? Something to the effect of trying to start a new cold war or something.... Oh the laughs he had. I wonder if he's still laughing?

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34 replies
pdm6288 September 02 2014 at 8:30 AM

They think the US are the only ones who can help. That was the old US, he was talking about. This US cannot even help protect its own borders.

Flag Reply +99 rate up
25 replies
mikesells4u September 02 2014 at 8:33 AM

The Ukrain is not a Muslim nation. Don't expect any help from Obama on this one.

Flag Reply +77 rate up
13 replies
nasatristate September 02 2014 at 8:41 AM

Reagan tore down the Iron Curtin, Obama is rebuilding it!

Flag Reply +70 rate up
21 replies
tennisleader September 02 2014 at 8:27 AM

Obama..... I guess this was the flexibility you were talking about after the election.... thanks Putin

Flag Reply +61 rate up
3 replies
rudniski136 September 02 2014 at 8:35 AM

"Russia can take over Ukraine in 2 weeks if we want to." Putin

Out of context or not, this is reality.

Flag Reply +60 rate up
9 replies
Bobby Brown September 02 2014 at 8:31 AM

Putin has nothing to worry about in his ambitions on Europe with the cowardly Europe and O' Bamah--we all know O'Bamah doesn't read his daily briefs; that's why everything is a surprise until he sees it on the news--HA

Flag Reply +52 rate up
14 replies
naojf22936 September 02 2014 at 8:34 AM

Putin as evil as Hitler. ISIS following suit.
Nothing new...the world has seen this before.

Flag Reply +47 rate up
11 replies
rothhammer1 September 02 2014 at 8:36 AM

did someone tattle on Vlad?

This whole situation is poised to get incredibly ugly.

Flag Reply +38 rate up
2 replies
ansisrael3 rothhammer1 September 02 2014 at 9:45 AM

putin is just ticked off that his true colors are showing

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
jneal11254 ansisrael3 September 02 2014 at 9:51 AM

Exactly right. Sociopaths don't like it when their lies are found out.

Flag +2 rate up
jneal11254 rothhammer1 September 02 2014 at 9:52 AM

Were it not for nuclear weapons we'd already be in a World War.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
2 replies
hmadden jneal11254 September 02 2014 at 2:14 PM

That is the absolute truth. Had nukes not been developed, WWII would have lasted longer, and WWIII would have probably occurred in the early 1950's. And who knows how long that would have lasted...

Flag 0 rate up
Mike Keefer jneal11254 September 02 2014 at 6:02 PM

That is why I take issue with people that claim that the invention of nuclear weapons was such a great evil. If it was not for the fear of Nukes, we would be up to WWV by now. Nukes put the leaders at just as much risk as the grunts on the front lines. Suddenly all out war was not a good idea any more.

Flag 0 rate up
sssprayfoam September 02 2014 at 8:35 AM

Whats it going to take for our government to just leave these other countries alone with their business and take care of our own (sadly we would probably need to be wiped off the map)

Flag Reply +25 rate up
14 replies
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