09/01/2014, 00.00
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As the threat of a "Russian invasion" rises, the danger of war looms larger

NATO's "evidence" raises eyebrows, just days before its summit in Wales, which should decide troop and weapon systems deployment in eastern Europe. Mikhail Khodorkovsky wonders why Russia does not admit to having combat troops in Ukraine. The EU gives an ultimatum ahead of new economic sanctions. US senators urge the president to send weapons to Kyiv. The situation appears to be reaching a "point of no return".

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that the situation in eastern Ukraine is "close to the point of no return," and the "Point of no return is full-scale war."    

Tensions intensified after NATO accused Russia of deploying tanks and soldiers to boost rebels in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, which would explain why pro-Russian separatists recently gained ground, pushing towards the port of Mariupol'.

NATO provided satellite photos to convince its members of Russia's "invasion", but none of the evidence is incontrovertible.

Some analysts, like Michel Chossudovsky, note that this desire of military escalation comes just days before the NATO summit in Wales on 4-5 September to push members to support massive defence deployment in Eastern Europe to counter "Russian aggression".

Conversely, some gung-ho US members of Congress have called on President Obama to send weapons to help Ukraine fight what they say is "a Russian invasion".

Members of a contact group that should include representatives from Russia, Ukraine, the rebels and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe was expected to meet in the Belarus capital Minsk today in the latest bid to halt the fighting. But no one is holding high hopes for a positive outcome.

For his part, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he would like to discuss the political re-organisation of the eastern regions of Ukraine, including a possible "state."

Later, his spokesperson watered down the statement, saying that Putin was not referring to an actual separate entity since the Ukrainian crisis is a "domestic crisis".

Putin's words coincide with the European Union's latest ultimatum to Russia not to give military support to the rebels, or pay the price of greater economic sanctions. The ultimatum expires in seven days.

So far, Russia has denied any military involvement in eastern Ukraine and downplayed the capture of Russian soldiers within the borders of Ukraine, claiming that some Russian soldiers might have "volunteered" for combat "on their holiday time" motivated by personal reasons. According to some analysts, such "volunteers" number about a thousand.

"We are fighting Ukraine - for real," Russian dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky wrote a few days ago in his blog. "We are sending soldiers and equipment."

The former oligarch wonders why Russia will not admit it publicly. For "All this time our authorities have been lying through their teeth, just like they did about Afghanistan back in the '80s; and about Chechnya in the '90s".

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