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Berlin denies knowledge of Kiev weapon deliveries

By Agencies in Berlin and Kiev (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-16 07:05

US-led military exercises in Ukraine begin

The German government has no knowledge of any country delivering weapons to the Ukraine government, Berlin said on Monday.

The remarks from German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman were a response to the Ukrainian defense minister's claims that some NATO countries were sending arms.

 Berlin denies knowledge of Kiev weapon deliveries

A man inspects the interior of a turret from a Ukrainian armored personnel carrier in Lutugine, eastern Ukraine, on Sunday. Marko Djurica / Reuters

"The question of whether weapons are being delivered should be directed to the countries that supposedly or allegedly are doing it. We are not one of those countries, and I know of no such thing," Steffen Seibert said.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Valery Heletey said on Sunday that NATO countries were sending weapons to his country to help it fight rebels, following what he said were bilateral meetings with NATO defense ministers during a NATO summit in Wales on Sept 4 and 5.

NATO officials have said the Western alliance will not send "lethal assistance" to nonmember Ukraine, but member states may do so.

A NATO official said he could neither confirm nor deny the claim "as any such delivery would be done on a bilateral basis".

Meanwhile, US-led military exercises began in Ukraine on Monday after a day of deadly fighting between government forces and rebels in the east that has put pressure on a shaky 10-day-old truce.

Soldiers from 15 nations, including the United States, began military exercises dubbed "Rapid Trident 14" near the western city of Lviv, about 1,000 km from the conflict in Donetsk.

The US was expected to send about 200 troops, the first such deployment since the uprising erupted across eastern Ukraine in April.

Ukraine's new leaders have announced they want to begin taking steps to join NATO, a red line for Moscow.

The conflict in Ukraine's vital industrial heartland and Moscow's annexation of Crimea sent ties between Russia and the West plunging to their lowest point since the Cold War.

Local officials said six civilians died during heavy shelling around the rebel stronghold of Donetsk on Sunday, with Kiev accusing the separatists of jeopardizing the truce by intensifying attacks against government positions.

The warring sides signed up to a 12-point cease-fire - the first truce backed by both Kiev and Moscow - after talks in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, but there have been reports of violations almost daily.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Merkel "expressed concern" about the breaches in a telephone call late on Sunday, his office said.

It also said Merkel backed Poroshenko's plans this week to introduce legislation in parliament that offers limited self-rule for the eastern regions, which form the economic backbone of Ukraine - a key provision of the truce.


(China Daily 09/16/2014 page12)

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