Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Russians Find Few Barriers to Joining Ukraine Battle

JUNE 9, 2014

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia — It was at a barbecue outside a city in southern Russia, this Russian war veteran recalled, that he and some friends met an envoy for the separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. They were fighting for their families, the envoy said, against the “neo-Nazis and ultranationalists” who had seized power in Kiev in a February coup.

“We asked him, ‘Do you need help?’ ” the veteran said in an interview on the Ukrainian side of the border. “He said, ‘Yes we do.’ And so we offered to help.”

As warfare has raged in the separatist provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, Russia’s role has been hard to discern. In contrast to the conflict in Crimea, no regular Russian soldiers have been visible in eastern Ukraine, and President Vladimir V. Putin has ordered his troops to pull back from the border region.

But late last week, Ukrainian border guards abandoned a post near Luhansk, blowing a hole in a border that was already considered porous at best, opening the way for men, war matériel and contraband to enter the country. Since then, several other posts have been commandeered by the separatists, who also overran the border guards’ headquarters in Luhansk.

(More here.)


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