The head of the Ukrainian military’s armed forces said Monday that the Red Flag team, which has been monitoring the situation in eastern Ukraine, was not ready to start a full-fledged operation on its own until the end of the week.
Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told a news briefing that the team had already been given a deadline of Thursday to deploy to a position where it can monitor and control the situation.
Lysenko said the Red flag team would only begin its work when its commander had a firm commitment to start it, according to the Interfax news agency.
The Red Flag is a group of Ukrainian soldiers that were deployed by the Ukrainian army last month to monitor and direct Ukrainian forces.
They have been deployed to several positions along the frontline where Ukrainian forces are battling separatists, including the town of Horlivka, in eastern Ukrainian territory.
In a statement Monday, Lysenko blamed the separatists for the attack on a Ukrainian army helicopter.
“We have the information that an airplane was shot down, killing a pilot and his co-pilot, and the helicopter crashed in the area of Horlovka, where the soldiers were stationed,” Lysenko wrote.
“The Ukrainian forces were forced to evacuate the wounded and the dead from the crashed aircraft.”
Ukrainians in Horlivkas area said they were able to escape the shooting and rescue their fellow soldiers, who were killed or wounded.
The area has been the scene of intense fighting since April.
Ukronian President Petro Poroshenko has repeatedly accused the rebels of shooting down the plane, and Ukrainian military officials have repeatedly denied the accusations.
Lysenenko said Monday the Red flags team would continue to work in the field until the next command of the group.
The Red Flag has been deployed by Ukrainian forces to several locations along the Ukrainian-Russian border.