The Supreme Council of Ukraine has announced plans to admit international military forces to participate in military exercises in Ukraine, Colonel General Mykhailo Koval said.
Speaking at a briefing for mass media after the Meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Committee, Gen. Koval said: “Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine [The Supreme Council of Ukraine] adopted the Act of Ukraine ‘On admission of units of armed forces of other states to the territory of Ukraine in 2014 for participation in exercises’ and approved the Plan of Multinational Exercises.
“We didn’t stop any action and we are ready to conduct them; the necessary resources have been allocated.”
The general’s announcement comes amid recent fighting between anti-Kiev separatists and Ukrainian military forces in eastern Ukraine that has resulted in scores of deaths in recent months.
On Monday, a Ukrainian fighter jet bombed strike the city of Luhansk’s main regional building, resulting in several deaths and injuries.
Ukrainian Diplomat Yuriy Sergeyev denied claims of the airstrike, saying that the explosion had come from the misuse of a grenade by separatists. However, videos on Youtube showing the airstrike contradicted Mr. Sergeyev’s claims.
Other videos showed the bloody aftermath of the airstrike. Several dead and injured laid around the regional building. Those alive were in critical condition, some drenched in their own blood and or mutilated, while the dead laid in pools of blood.
One particular video shows a white car just barely avoiding the airstrike.
The airstrike came during an attack by pro-Russian militants on a border command center outside of Luhansk.
Reports from the Border Guard Service of Ukraine say that a “great number” of armed separatists have surrounded the center for a second day in a row, but have not yet attacked. The service added that the guards maintain high moral and will stand their ground against any further attacks.
The gunmen used small-arms, machine-guns, mortars, sniper fire and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) during their attack on Monday.
NATO To Amp its Defense Measures
On Tuesday, NATO Defense Ministers reviewed collective defense in wake of the current Russia-Ukraine crisis.
Ever since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March, Moscow and Ukraine have continuously insulted each other and accused the other of fueling the fighting between Ukrainian military forces and anti-Kiev separatists.
The Kiev authorities have accused Russia of “supporting terrorism” in eastern and southern Ukraine, a claim which Russia has repeatedly denied.
In recent weeks, the West has strengthened its support for the Ukrainian government, and shown its disapproval of Moscow’s actions by applying sanctions against top ranking Russian officials.
“We are facing a new security landscape because of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussen said on Tuesday during the first day of a two-day Ministerial. “We have already taken immediate steps. In a strong show of solidarity, every single Ally, from both sides of the Atlantic, contributes to bolstering our collective defense, including deployments of ships, aircraft and troops, It really is all for one and one for all,” he added.
Mr. Rasmussen also said that the Ukraine crisis has shown that the security threats NATO is facing is increasing and becoming more unpredictable.
The current conflict in Ukraine erupted back in February when protesters in Kiev clashed with police, resulting in over 100 deaths and the ousting of the president at the time, Viktor Yanukovych.
Shortly later, Crimea held a referendum on secession from Ukraine, and was then annexed by Russia in March, an act that Kiev and the West declared illegitimate.
Following the annexation, pro-Russian activists in east and south Ukraine rose up against the Kiev authorities and demanded for greater autonomy from the Ukrainian government.
When their requests were denied, the activists took up arms, leading to clashes with the Ukrainian military that have since resulted in scores of deaths.
Fighting has amplified in recent weeks.
Roughly a week ago, over 50 separatists were killed in fighting with the Ukrainian military at the Donetsk International Airport.
Last week, 14 Ukrainian soldiers, including a top ranking general, were killed when the helicopter they were travelling in was shot down by separatists.
Moscow has repeatedly called for an immediate end to the bloodshed, and on Monday, called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security council to seek a cease-fire.
Mr. Sergeyev claimed Moscow’s resolution for an end to the fighting was “immoral”, and accused Russia of backing the separatists. He demanded that the Kremlin use its power to deescalate the crisis in Ukraine as promised in the Geneva convention in April.
The Kiev authorities have deemed the anti-Kiev activists of being “terrorists” because of their violent actions taken against the Ukrainian government and military.