Frontline handshake: Kiev army, militia meet amid Donetsk airport ruins
The Ukrainian army, accompanied by observers from the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), delivered supplies to their forces besieged in the Donetsk airport on Friday, LifeNews reported.
Army trucks marked by white flags also delivered 51 soldiers to the airport and took out 48 troops, after the militias allowed the Ukrainian military to rotate forces.
The commanders of the conflicting sides met at the site of the airport – which has been reduced to rubble in the past months – and shook hands, saying that the war must be stopped.
“I think it's a war between brothers that nobody wants. The top brass should sort things out. And us? We are soldiers, we do what we're told,” said a Kiev army battalion commander known as 'Kupol.'
“I hope things will be OK in the future; that with this ceasefire, we can all take our proper places, without too much fighting,” answered the anti-government forces battalion commander, known as ‘Motorola'.
Kupol agreed, saying: “I think we should make peace. Let's not go looking for trouble. Let's come to terms.”
Some Ukrainian media have said the meeting was staged, with impostors posing as Ukrainian soldiers in the video. However, others have confirmed that it was indeed a Ukrainian paratrooper commander meeting with a rebel commander.
Ukrainian journalist and blogger Anatoly Sharin told RT that accusations made by the Ukrainian media that the meeting was staged are unreasonable. He explained that an interview with Kupol can be found from the same Ukrainian media that say the meeting was a fraud. In the interview, it specifies that he is the new acting commander of the 93rd battalion. In his blog, Sharin also presents a video report on the issue.
The media “tried to expose a fake, but it turned out they made a fake themselves,” he said.
Donetsk airport became the scene of heavy battles between local militia forces and the Ukrainian military, leading to dozens of fatalities. Engulfed in internal military conflict since April, when Kiev forces began its crackdown on the southeastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, the two sides agreed to a brief ceasefire during talks in Minsk, Belarus, on September 5. However, both parties have blamed each other for violations. A new attempt at a ceasefire was launched on Tuesday. It is hoped that it will pave the way for a new round of peace talks.