Russia positions new fighter jets on Ukrainian border
Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - 01:50
June 18 - Moscow positioned new fighter jets in southern Russia as a ceasefire agreement with Ukraine collapses amid accusations Kiev violated it. Deborah Gembara reports.
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A fleet of new Russian Sukhoi-34 twin-seat fighter jets arrived at an airbase in southern Russia --- which borders Ukraine.
Pilot Sergei Shturbabin says the new jets replace the older SU-24M model and give the military more flexibility regarding combat operations.
SOUNDBITE JET PILOT SERGEI SHTURBABIN, SAYING:
"The SU-34 has a more superior maneuverability, a ceiling (maximum altitude) of 15,000 meters, and distance range of 7,000 kilometers. It is also capable of hitting targets with maximum precision from different kind of maneuvers, under any weather conditions, day or night."
This airbase in Russia's Rostov region isn't far from the site of some of the fiercest fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists.
The buildup comes on the heels of a late night phone call between Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko and Russia's Vladimir Putin regarding a possible ceasefire.
It dissolved almost instantly as Russian rebels accused Kiev of violating it and Moscow's top diplomat Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov went a step further.
SOUNDBITE: RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SERGEI LAVROV:
"I have also heard about an option that this temporary ceasefire is needed to allow so-called separatists to leave Ukrainian territory. Well, this is probably close to ethnic cleansing - if the Russian-speaking, ethnic Russian population is invited to leave the country because the authorities do not want to take note of their lawful demands."
Ukraine has accused Russia of stoking unrest in the East and supplies rebels with weapons.
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