Speed Reads

foreign affairs

Russia offers Donetsk rebels troop support to 'avert an impending humanitarian crisis'

Just a day after Western powers warned against such a plan, Moscow "urged support for Russia's initiative to deploy a humanitarian mission," to Ukraine, reports BBC News.

The offer comes in the wake of a requested ceasefire by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, who claim their stronghold on the city of Donetsk is failing and that the militants are "completely encircled."

"We are prepared to stop firing to bar the spread of the scale of the humanitarian catastrophe," newly installed rebel leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko wrote Saturday on the militants' website.

But the rebels stepped back those remarks this morning in response to the Ukrainian government's stance that any negotiations would have to stem from "raising white flags and ... putting down guns," notes Reuters.

While pro-Russian rebels made swift gains across cities in the east through much of the four-month-long conflict, Ukraine's government has recently stepped up its operations to end the fighting. So far, nearly 1,500 people have been killed in the conflict, and officials from both the United States and Britain warned Russia against sending more troops into Ukraine under the pretext of a "humanitarian mission" this week.