Ukraine Hikes Military Budget: Merkel Cautions Russia
By Kalyan Kumar | August 25, 2014 2:25 PM EST
Ukraine has announced a massive hike in the country's defence spending. This followed threat perceptions from separatists within the country and Russia from outside. The latest provocation from Russia was the forced entry of Russian aid trucks into Ukraine territory without an official permission to deliver the aid.
Soldiers salute as they parade on Tochka-U tactical rocket complexes during Ukraine's Independence Day military parade in the centre of Kiev August 24, 2014.
The Associate Press reported that President Petro Poroshenko announced an extra 40 billion hryvnia ($3 billion) for defence forces during his Independence Day speech on Sunday.
Thousands of people turned up to hear Mr Poroshenko and watched an ostentatious military display at Kiev's Independence Square. The parade made a show of tanks and armoured vehicles as a mark of strength.
Merkel Warns Russia
The EU support for Ukraine was evident with the the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Kiev on Saturday. She warned Russia of more sanctions and punitive measures if things do not improve, referring to Russia's continued support to the separatist rebels.
Ms Merkel, in her talks with the Ukraine president, urged for a bilateral ceasefire and effective border controls to end the fighting between rebels and government troops.
At the same time, Ms Merkel expressed support to Kiev's pro-Western leaders and said maintaining territorial integrity and well-being of Ukraine is very essential.
Ms Merkel's visit was timed just ahead of the talks between President Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin at Minsk on Tuesday.
Russian Convoy Leaves
After showing its impatience with the Ukraine government, Russian aid convoy left for Russia. This was after gate crashing into the Ukrainian territory and unloading the aid materials forcibly.
Russia had sent more than 200 of trucks carrying aid to the strife torn Lugansk area. But Kiev dubbed the Russian act as a direct invasion.
The convoy was kept waiting outside the Izvaryne border near Luhansk for more than a week. The Ukrainian authorities wanted assurance from the International Committee of Red Cross with regard to the contents. On Friday afternoon, the Russian trucks moved into Ukraine without permission. The Russian state carried footage of workers on the trucks unloading several sacks of grain and food materials.
The trucks returned to Russia on Saturday without further provocation. The Washington Post quoted a Ukrainian military spokesman that the Russian trucks carried back many Ukrainian-made military equipment, including aircraft trackers. But the officer could not offer any proof.
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