There could be a “high probability” that Russia will launch an invasion of the Ukraine, NATO said Monday.
Kiev said it was nearing the point of recapturing Donetsk, the biggest city being held by pro-Russian rebels. Before the war, Donetsk boasted nearly 1 million people.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said President Vladimir Putin could be planning an invasion because roughly 20,000 Russian troops are reportedly massed on the border.
"We see the Russians developing the narrative and the pretext for such an operation under the guise of a humanitarian operation and we see a military buildup that could be used to conduct such illegal military operations in Ukraine," he said.
A leader of the rebels in Donetsk, Alexander Zakharchenko, said rebel fighters are preparing to launch a counter-attack within the next few days. Then recently, artillery shelling blasted a high-security prison in the city, killing one inmate and freeing more than 100 criminals.
There is also a shortage of food, water and fuel in Donetsk. Banks are closed and most people are staying indoors.
So far, there are reports that more than 1,100 people have died in the past four months since rebels captured the territory.
Western countries are using tight sanctions against Moscow, while Moscow decided last week to ban meat, poultry, dairy, fruit and vegetables from the U.S., European Union, Canada, Australia and Norway.
Publication date: August 11, 2014