16 Feb 2018 15:02

Ukrainian military preparing to step up fighting in Donbas - LPR

LUHANSK. Feb 16 (Interfax) - The Ukrainian army is reinforcing its positions along the contact line in Donbas and may be seeking to escalate the situation in the conflict area, the acting foreign minister of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic (LPR), Vladislav Deinego, said.

"Today, the Ukrainian side, at any rate as our intelligence is informing us, is reinforcing its positions, amassing personnel, hardware, and special-purpose equipment, and is also forming the rear area and fuel and ammunition stockpiles, etc., along the contact line," Deinego told reporters on Friday, adding that civilians in Kyiv-controlled parts of the Luhansk region have confirmed this information.

The maximum escalation of tension in Donbas will play into the Ukrainian side's hands, he said.

"Military actions indicate that as well," he said.

"Attacks on populated localities, primarily the Bryanka district and Lomuvatka, also indicate that Ukraine is seriously sounding out the situation and is trying to understand what assessment of such actions will be given by both the allegedly neutral observers who are monitoring the situation and global media outlets," he said.

On February 12, the LPR militia suppressed an attempt by a group of Ukrainian saboteurs to break through the contact line near the village of Zhelobok, as a result of which three Ukrainian servicemen were killed, while the others retreated toward the area of Kostomarov, Deinego said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin told reporters earlier that the foreign ministers of the Normandy Four member countries would meet in Munich on Friday. The French foreign minister will be unable to take part in the meeting, but his representative will attend, Klimkin said.

Security, the release of captives, and humanitarian issues will dominate the meeting's agenda.