Ukraine says troops entered rebel-held city

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Ukraine says troops entered rebel-held city
On this photo taken on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, Ukrainian soldiers have a break after taking part in operation in undisclosed location in Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine. Russia let Ukrainian officials inspect an aid convoy while it was still on Russian soil Friday and agreed that the Red Cross can distribute the goods in Ukraine's rebel-held city of Luhansk. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
On this photo taken on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, Ukrainian soldiers have a break after taking part in operation in undisclosed location in Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine. Russia let Ukrainian officials inspect an aid convoy while it was still on Russian soil Friday and agreed that the Red Cross can distribute the goods in Ukraine's rebel-held city of Luhansk. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A local resident passes by Ukrainian army APC in the city of Lutugino, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. Russia let Ukrainian officials inspect an aid convoy while it was still on Russian soil Friday and agreed that the Red Cross can distribute the goods in Ukraine's rebel-held city of Luhansk. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Woman feeds a dog near to their tour bus during a break in their bus journey from Moscow to their home in the town Luhansk, Ukraine, at the Russia-Ukraine border control point in Russian town Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. Travel restrictions are put in place by pro-Russian rebels, making some journeys difficult. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
In this photo taken Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, an Ukrainian soldier sits atop of a military vehicle as an army column of military vehicles prepares to roll to a frontline near Illovaisk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian forces have stepped up efforts to dislodge the separatists from their last strongholds in Donetsk and Luhansk and there was more heavy shelling overnight. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
In this photo taken on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, locals graze their cows along a road with Ukrainian army column of military vehicles near Illovaisk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian forces have stepped up efforts to dislodge the separatists from their last strongholds in Donetsk and Luhansk and there was more heavy shelling overnight. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Smoke from an oil refinery rises over a field of sunflowers near the city of Lisichansk, Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, July 26, 2014. Volunteers from the Donbas Battalion, a volunteer militia for a united Ukraine, told The Associated Press their units, along with the Ukrainian army, regained control of Lisichansk on Friday. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
A woman walks past a damaged school in the city of Lisichansk, Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, July 26, 2014. Volunteers from the Donbas Battalion, a volunteer militia for a united Ukraine, told The Associated Press their units, along with the Ukrainian army, regained control of Lisichansk on Friday. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
People ride a scooter past a destroyed pro-Russian fighters' APC near the city of Lisichansk, Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine Saturday, July 26, 2014. Volunteers from the Donbas Battalion, a volunteer militia for a united Ukraine, told The Associated Press their units, along with the Ukrainian army, regained control of Lisichansk on Friday. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Ukrainian government army soldiers patrol in the city of Lisichansk, Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine Saturday, July 26, 2014. Volunteers from the Donbas Battalion, a volunteer militia for a united Ukraine, told The Associated Press their units, along with the Ukrainian army, regained control of Lisichansk on Friday. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
A woman cries near to the bodies of people, among whom were family members, who were killed during shelling by Ukrainian government troops in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Friday, July 18, 2014. The fighting between the government and pro-Russia separatists in Luhansk continued as world leaders called for an immediate cease-fire in eastern Ukraine on Friday and demanded speedy access for international investigators to the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines jetliner shot down over the country's battlefields. (AP Photo/Mikhail Ivanchenko)
Tamara Loshko, a refugee from Luhansk, cries while waiting for a meeting with OSCE's secretary-general Lamberto Zannier at a camp for refugees from the conflict in Ukraine's east, in the village of Dmitriadovka near Rostov-on-Don, southern Russia, Thursday, June 12, 2014. The OSCE's secretary-general on Thursday visited a camp in Russia for refugees from the conflict in Ukraine's east and called for the fighting to end. (AP Photo/Mikhail Mordasov)
A pro-Russian men tries to remove a Ukrainian national emblem from the gates to the city administration headquarters in Luhansk, Ukraine, Monday June 9, 2014. Ukraine's new president on Saturday called for pro-Russian rebels in the country's east to lay down their arms and welcomed dialogue with the insurgents, but said he wouldn't negotiate with those he called "gangsters and killers" and struck a defiant tone on the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula. (AP Photo/Igor Golovniov)
Remnants of a downed Ukrainian army aircraft Il-76 at the airport near Luhansk, Ukraine, Saturday, June 14, 2014. Pro-Russian separatists shot down the military transport plane Saturday in the country’s restive east, killing all 49 service personnel on board, Ukrainian officials said. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Pro-Russians walk in front of the damaged regional administration building in Luhansk, Ukraine, Monday, June 2, 2014. Hundreds of pro-Russia insurgents attacked a border guard base in eastern Ukraine on Monday, with some firing rocket-propelled grenades from the roof of a nearby residential building. At least five rebels were killed when the guards returned fire, a spokesman for the border guard service said. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
A Pro-Russian militant looks away from weeping relatives during a funeral, attended by thousands, for five pro-Russian activists, Saturday, May 24, 2014, in the town of Stakhanov, eastern Ukraine. Five insurgents killed in a battle with Ukrainian forces near the city of Luhansk were buried on Saturday. The clash is one of several firefights between the two sides that have left at least 20 dead and some 300 injured, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, days ahead of the country's presidential elections. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
A woman puts her hands together during a rally in downtown Donetsk, Ukraine, on Saturday, May 24, 2014. Representatives of several south-east Ukrainian regions gathered in Donetsk and signed documents for the foundation of the state of Novorossiya, which, for the moment, includes Donetsk and Luhansk regions. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
In this photo taken on Monday, May 12, 2014, the leader of insurgency in the Luhansk region Valery Bolotov, center, greets people as they declare independence for the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine on Monday, May 12, 2014. On Tuesday, Russian news wires quoted insurgents as saying that unidentified assailants fired at a car in which Valery Bolotov, the leader of insurgency in the Luhansk region, was riding. Bolotov was hospitalized with wounds. Bolotov was the one to announce independence Monday for his region. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
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By PETER LEONARD

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Ukraine's government said Sunday that separatists shot down a Ukrainian fighter plane after army troops entered deep inside a rebel-controlled city in the east in what could prove a breakthrough development in the four-month long conflict.

Ukraine's national security council said government forces captured a district police station in Luhansk after bitter clashes in the Velika Vergunka neighborhood.

Weeks of fighting have taken their toll on Luhansk, which city authorities say has reached the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe. The siege mounted by government forces has ground delivery of basic provisions to a halt and cut off power and running water links.

Although rebel forces have regularly yielded territory in recent weeks, they have continued to show formidable fighting capabilities.

Ukrainian military spokesman Oleksiy Dmitrashkovsky said Sunday that the separatists have shot down a Ukrainian fighter plane over the Luhansk region after it launched an attack on rebels. The pilot ejected and was taken to a secure place, he said.

Another military spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, later said that the status of the pilot was still being clarified.

Part of a Russian aid convoy carrying food and other supplies intended for Luhansk and other afflicted zones on Sunday headed to the section of border closest to the city, but stopped just short of the frontier crossing in the early afternoon. The convoy has been marooned for days in a town near the border amid objections from Ukraine, which initially complained that the mission was not authorized by the International Committee for the Red Cross.

The Red Cross, which would have responsibility for distributing the aid, on Saturday said the main holdup was a lack of security guarantees from all sides in the conflict.

As the status of the Russian aid convoy remained uncertain, the foreign minister of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France were expected to meet in Berlin on Sunday over the crisis.

Rebels have been bullish about their ability to continue their battle and, in at least one case, have openly bragged of receiving support from Russia.

In a video posted online this weekend, the leader of the self-proclaimed rebel government in the Donetsk region, Alexander Zakharchenko, was seen saying new military equipment was on its way from Russia. He said the shipment included tanks and some 1,200 fighters who have undergone training in Russia. Donetsk, the main rebel-held city, is several hours drive west of Luhansk, and is also suffering through fighting including frequent shelling.

Lysenko said the government had information that separatists had received reinforcement from Russia, but added that there is evidence rebels are complaining about not receiving some of the equipment they have been promised.

Russia has consistently denied allegations that it is supporting the rebels with equipment or training. But Ukraine's president on Friday said that Ukraine had destroyed a large number of military vehicles that had recently crossed from Russia.

Russia And Ukraine Try Diplomacy As Fighting Continues

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