Masked pro-Russia protesters stand guard at a barricade outside a regional government building in Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine April 15, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
Ukraine is pressing on with its operation against pro-Russian rebels in the east and has ample military resources to keep up the offensive round the clock, the interior minister said on Friday.
Arsen Avakov dismissed talk that Kiev suspended its "anti-terrorist operation" (ATO) in the face of threats from Moscow after Ukrainian troops closed in on the rebel stronghold.
"There has been no suspension of the ATO in connection to the threat of invasion by Russia's armed forces," he wrote on his Facebook page. "The ATO goes on. The terrorists should be on their guard around the clock. Civilians have nothing to fear."
Denying suggestions that Kiev's forces are stretched, he also stressed that care was being taken to avoid non-combatant casualties, after Moscow warned it may act to protect civilians.
"Contrary to the rumours, only insignificant forces from the ATC were deployed, without the use of tanks or other heavy armour," Avakov wrote on his Facebook page, referring to an Anti-Terrorism Centre involving the army and other agencies.
"The ATC has sufficient forces at its disposal to rotate them and operate round the clock if necessary."