Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister has said that Ukraine’s decision to stop budget payments to its eastern regions may be a precursor to a military attack on the areas,
Press TV reports: By freezing the budget, the Ukrainian government may be “preparing the ground for another invasion in order to solve the issue (the conflict in the east) by force,” Lavrov said in an address to Russia’s parliament on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, Ukrainian officials declared they would not pay 2.6 billion dollars in state support to the eastern regions that are controlled by pro-Russia forces, a move that is likely to worsen the situation on the ground there.
Heavy artillery fire damaged a water filter station that supplies most of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk earlier this week. As a result, a majority of neighborhoods have no running water while the remaining capacities are used for central heating, the Donetsk mayor’s office said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking regions in the east have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Russia activists and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations to silence the pro-Russia protests in mid-April.
According to the latest figures by the United Nations, more than 4,000 people have been killed and over 9,300 others injured in the fighting. In addition, hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes.
Kiev and its Western allies accuse neighboring Russia of having a hand in the chaotic situation in eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin, however, has repeatedly denied the allegation as baseless.