East Ukrainian pro-Russian separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko said serving Russian soldiers, on leave from their posts, are fighting Ukrainian troops alongside the rebels, Russian state television reported. "Among us are fighting serving soldiers, who would rather take their vacation not on a beach but with us, among brothers, who are fighting for their freedom," said Zakharchenko in an interview posted on Vesti.ru, the Internet site of a Russian state television station.
European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said on Thursday he does not expect Europe to suffer interruptions of Russian gas supplies that go through Ukraine, but he could not rule it out completely. Addressing a meeting of German and Balkan leaders in Berlin, Germany's EU commissioner said it was important not to allow the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom to become too powerful when it comes to the ownership of gas pipelines. Russia, Europe's biggest supplier of gas meeting almost a third of demand in the region, cut off gas supplies to Ukraine in June in a dispute over unpaid bills but Russian gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine have been flowing uninterrupted since.
Gunmen opened fire on a Lebanese army position at the border with Syria on Thursday near a town seized by Islamist insurgents earlier this month, triggering an exchange of fire, a security source said. The confrontation occurred in the mountainous border zone just outside the town of Arsal, which was held for five days by militants including fighters affiliated to Islamic State in an incursion that resulted in deadly battles with the army. Overnight, the Lebanese army shelled militant positions in the same area.