Ukraine’s acting Defence Minister Mykhailo Koval headed to the separatist east of the country on Wednesday to check on the progress of his forces’ push against pro-Kremlin insurgents, a top cabinet official said.
“The defence minister… went to the scene and will later report what is happening there,” news agencies quoted First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaliy Yarema as telling a cabinet meeting.
The news came shortly after the Defence Ministry said that pro-Russian militants had taken two of its soldiers “hostage” in the separatist eastern region of Lugansk.
The ministry said an officer and a soldier were seized by “extremists” on Tuesday and taken to an unknown destination after they pulled over to repair their vehicle.
Earlier today, Ukraine’s Western-backed Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that Russia was attempting to erect a new “Berlin Wall” that threatens security across Europe.
“Today’s events… are starting to endanger Europe and the European Union. It is now clear that our Russian neighbours have decided to build a new Berlin Wall and return to the Cold War era,” Yatsenyuk told a government meeting.
The remarks came amid Kiev’s claim that pro-Russian forces in Ukraine have ‘shoot to kill’ orders.
Also today, Ukrainian government forces and separatist pro-Russian militia staged rival shows of force in eastern Ukraine amid escalating rhetoric on the eve of crucial four-power talks in Geneva on the former Soviet country’s future.