Presidential adviser: Russia attempting to gain upper hand in talks with fresh attacks in Donbass ({{commentsTotal}})

The latest aggressive steps by Russia in eastern Ukraine are an attempt to gain a better position before talks, says Merle Maigre, the security adviser to President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

Violence in eastern Ukraine has escalated in recent days with Ukraine blaming Russia for sending 700 new troops and equipment across the border while Russia says Ukraine does not want peace with the separatists.

Maigre stold ERR radio firefights increased a few weeks ago, but this weekend's battles have become especially intense.

She said much is connected with the meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday. “I believe Russian expectations that the European Union is softer and kinder are behind the spike in activity.”

The attempt to show the EU its power failed, Maigre said, adding that Russia also aimed to force Ukraine into accepting more favorable terms. She said Moscow wants Ukraine to negotiate with the separatists directly.

Maigre said Ukraine has recently increased its combat abilities, but the recent push by the separatists means 500 square kilometers of land has been won by separatists.

Ukrainian authorities said today they have not lost their positions in the Donetsk airport and fighting continues. Ukraine said it has killed around 300 separatists in the past week.

Editor: J.M. Laats