Ukraine blames Russia for downed plane, aiding separatists
KIEV — Ukraine accused Russian army officers on Monday of joining fight with separatists in the east of the country and said Moscow was building up its troops on the border.
A missile that downed a Ukrainian transport plane carrying eight people near the border was probably fired from Russia, Ukrainian officials said.
President Petro Poroshenko held an emergency meeting of his security chiefs because of a weekend of Ukrainian airstrikes on rebel positions near the border with Russia and charges by Moscow that Kiev killed a Russian man with a cross-border shell.
The war of words between Kiev and Moscow, and intense fighting, in which Ukrainian forces say they inflicted heavy losses on the rebels, marked a sharp escalation in the 3 1⁄2-month conflict in which several hundred Ukrainian servicemen, civilians and rebels have been killed.
“Information has ... been confirmed that Russian staff officers are taking part in military operations against Ukrainian forces,” Poroshenko said.
Diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis have so far made little progress. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, however, said a “Contact Group” — which includes Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe — aimed to talk to the rebels by video link on Tuesday and meet them in person soon afterward.