Ukraine's soldiers are fighting against Russian tanks, says Kiev military

Moscow: Ukrainian troops on Monday were battling a Russian tank contingent in the eastern city of Lugansk, Kiev said, accusing Moscow's army units of moving into large cities in the region.

"The battle between Ukrainian paratroopers and a reinforced tank battalion of the Russian armed forces is continuing with the goal of controlling the Lugansk airfield," military spokesman Leonid Matyukhin wrote on his Facebook page.

Ukraine's Defence Minister Valeriy Geletey further said that Russian units are moving into other towns in the region, including the largest city of the region Donetsk.

"The information that Russian troops are there has been confirmed," he said.

"We are fighting Russia and it is Russia which is deciding what will happen in Donbass," he told Ukraine's Inter channel late Sunday, referring to the informal name of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

"We are holding talks not with terrorists but with representatives of the Kremlin," he added.

 Ukraines soldiers are fighting against Russian tanks, says Kiev military

Ukraine military said its soldiers were in a direct clash with Russian tanks. AP

On the other hand, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Europe on Monday of ignoring the Ukrainian army "directly targeting civilians" in the east of the country.

The Ukrainian military "is directly targeting its fire on residential areas" and "unfortunately many countries, including in Europe, prefer not to notice that," he said from the eastern Siberian city of Yakutsk in comments broadcast on Russian television.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that a meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group in Minsk today should discuss an immediate and unconditional ceasefire.

"I am very much counting upon the negotiations set for today, to above all focus on agreeing an immediate and unconditional ceasefire," he said a meeting with university students according to Russian news agencies.

Representatives of Kiev, Moscow and the OSCE are to meet on Monday in Minsk, but it was unclear if representatives of pro-Russian separatists would attend.

Lavrov was highly sceptical of the peace plan of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

"We need to sit down and talk, and not insist upon unrealistic demands that the rebels give up their weapons and let themselves be killed," he said while meeting with students of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

"That is all what Petro Alexeyevich Poroshenko's peace plan is driving at."

Lavrov also said that from Russia "there will be no military intervention (in Ukraine), we are for an exclusively peaceful resolution of that most serious crisis, that tragedy."

Last week Kiev and the West accused Moscow of having intervened directly in the fighting amid growing signs that Russian troops were helping separatists stage a lightning counter-offensive that has thrown Ukrainian troops back.

NATO accused Russia of having more than 1,000 of its troops deployed in Ukraine and 20,000 massed on the border.

Russia has repeatedly denied that its troops are directly involved in the conflict and that it has supplied the rebels.

AFP

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Updated Date: Sep 01, 2014 13:31:13 IST