Ukrainian government forces and separatist pro-Russian militia staged rival shows of force in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday amid escalating rhetoric on the eve of crucial four-power talks in Geneva on the former Soviet country’s future.
Government troops drove seven armoured personnel carriers flying the Ukrainian flag into the town of Kramatorsk after securing control of a nearby airfield from the rebels on Tuesday, prompting Russian President Vladimir Putin to warn of the risk of civil war.
But just 15 km away, armed men in different types of combat fatigues drove six armoured personnel carriers, one flying the Russian flag, into the town of Slaviansk, stopping outside the town hall, which is occupied by separatists.
Overhead, a Ukrainian jet fighter carried out several minutes of aerobatics above the town’s main square in a clear show of strength by Kiev’s forces.
In the industrial city of Donetsk, at least 20 armed separatists occupied the city council building, a spokeswoman for the council said.
(From news reports)