Russian aid convoy drives into Ukraine

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Russian Convoy Crosses Into Ukraine

By Dmitry Madorsky

(Reuters) - Ukraine declared on Friday that Russia had launched a "direct invasion" of its territory after Moscow sent a convoy of aid trucks across the border into eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian rebels are fighting government forces.

Moscow, which has thousands of troops close on the Russian side of the border, warned against any attempt to "disrupt" the convoy but did not specify what action it was prepared to take if Kiev's forces intervened.

Kiev, for its part, said Ukrainian forces would not attack the convoy and had allowed it to pass to avoid "provocations".

Russian aid convoy drives into Ukraine
Trucks marked as being from a bitterly disputed Russian aid convoy to Ukraine stand in line as they return to Russia on the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. An Associated Press reporter counted 67 trucks entering the border crossing in the Russian city of Donetsk before noon Saturday. Another AP reporter on the Ukrainian side of the border said a line of trucks about 3 kilometers (2 miles) long was waiting to cross. The checkpoint on the Ukrainian side was being operated by separatist rebels, who inspected the trucks. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Trucks marked as being from a bitterly disputed Russian aid convoy to Ukraine, return to Russia as people wait to enter Ukraine on the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. An Associated Press reporter counted 67 trucks entering the border crossing in the Russian city of Donetsk before noon Saturday. Another AP reporter on the Ukrainian side of the border said a line of trucks about 3 kilometers (2 miles) long was waiting to cross. The checkpoint on the Ukrainian side was being operated by separatist rebels, who inspected the trucks. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Trucks marked as being from a bitterly disputed Russian aid convoy to Ukraine stand in line as they return to Russia in the Russian town of Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. An Associated Press reporter counted 67 trucks entering the border crossing in the Russian city of Donetsk before noon Saturday. Another AP reporter on the Ukrainian side of the border said a line of trucks about 3 kilometers (2 miles) long was waiting to cross. The checkpoint on the Ukrainian side was being operated by separatist rebels, who inspected the trucks. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Trucks marked as being from a bitterly disputed Russian aid convoy to Ukraine return to Russia as people wait to enter Ukraine at the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. An Associated Press reporter counted 67 trucks entering the border crossing in the Russian city of Donetsk before noon Saturday. Another AP reporter on the Ukrainian side of the border said a line of trucks about 3 kilometers (2 miles) long was waiting to cross. The checkpoint on the Ukrainian side was being operated by separatist rebels, who inspected the trucks. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Trucks marked as being from a bitterly disputed Russian aid convoy to Ukraine, stand in line as they return to Russia in the Russian town of Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. An Associated Press reporter counted 67 trucks entering the border crossing in the Russian city of Donetsk before noon Saturday. Another AP reporter on the Ukrainian side of the border said a line of trucks about 3 kilometers (2 miles) long was waiting to cross. The checkpoint on the Ukrainian side was being operated by separatist rebels, who inspected the trucks. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Trucks marked as being from a bitterly disputed Russian aid convoy to Ukraine, return to Russia as people wait to enter Ukraine at the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. An Associated Press reporter counted 67 trucks entering the border crossing in the Russian city of Donetsk before noon Saturday. Another AP reporter on the Ukrainian side of the border said a line of trucks about 3 kilometers (2 miles) long was waiting to cross. The checkpoint on the Ukrainian side was being operated by separatist rebels, who inspected the trucks. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Trucks marked as being from a bitterly disputed Russian aid convoy to Ukraine stand in line as they return to Russia on the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. An Associated Press reporter counted 67 trucks entering the border crossing in the Russian city of Donetsk before noon Saturday. Another AP reporter on the Ukrainian side of the border said a line of trucks about 3 kilometers (2 miles) long was waiting to cross. The checkpoint on the Ukrainian side was being operated by separatist rebels, who inspected the trucks. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Trucks marked as being from a bitterly disputed Russian aid convoy to Ukraine stand in line as they return to Russia in the Russian town of Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. An Associated Press reporter counted 67 trucks entering the border crossing in the Russian city of Donetsk before noon Saturday. Another AP reporter on the Ukrainian side of the border said a line of trucks about 3 kilometers (2 miles) long was waiting to cross. The checkpoint on the Ukrainian side was being operated by separatist rebels, who inspected the trucks. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
First trucks of the Russian aid convoy stand in the Russian inspection zone inside a border control point with Ukraine in the Russian town of Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014. Russia has been trying to send in about 200 trucks carrying what it says is humanitarian aid to help civilians in Luhansk, but Ukraine fears the move is a ploy to aid the pro-Russian separatists, and the convoy has been held up at the border for a week.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A driver carries empty water bottles as he walks past trucks forming part of an aid convoy parked in a field about 28 kilometers (17 miles) from the Ukrainian border, near Kamensk-Shakhtinsky, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. Hundreds of trucks in a Russian aid convoy are waiting near the Ukrainian border as complicated procedures drag on for allowing them into eastern Ukraine to help civilians suffering amid fighting between Ukrainian forces and separatists. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Trucks forming part of an aid convoy destined for Ukraine travel on a road to the border control point in the Russian town of Donetsk, in the Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Fighting in Ukraine has escalated since the insurgency arose in April, with government troops steadily taking back rebel-held territory in the east. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
A driver stands near trucks as the first part of Russian aid convoy is parked inside a border control point with Ukraine in the Russian town of Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
About 60 trucks forming part of a Russian aid convoy are parked in a field about 7 kilometers (4 miles) from a border control point with Ukraine in the Russian town of Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Thursday evening, Aug. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
A driver installs a red flag on his lorry, parked with other lorries of the Russian humanitarian convoy not far from a checkpoint at the Ukrainian border some 30 km outside the town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky in the Rostov region, on August 20, 2014. A tension between Moscow and Kiev simmering over Russia's decision to try and deliver what it claims to be a huge humanitarian aid convoy that the Ukrainian authorities fear may be used to smuggle in arms to the pro-Kremlin insurgents. AFP PHOTO / DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV (Photo credit should read DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Lorries part of a Russian humanitarian convoy are parked not far from a checkpoint at the Ukrainian border some 30 km outside the town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky in the Rostov region, on August 20, 2014. A tension between Moscow and Kiev simmering over Russia's decision to try and deliver what it claims to be a huge humanitarian aid convoy that the Ukrainian authorities fear may be used to smuggle in arms to the pro-Kremlin insurgents. AFP PHOTO / DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV (Photo credit should read DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Lorries part of a Russian humanitarian convoy are parked not far from a checkpoint at the Ukrainian border some 30 km outside the town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky in the Rostov region, on August 19, 2014. A tension between Moscow and Kiev simmering over Russia's decision to try and deliver what it claims to be a huge humanitarian aid convoy that the Ukrainian authorities fear may be used to smuggle in arms to the pro-Kremlin insurgents. AFP PHOTO/DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV (Photo credit should read DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Lorries part of a Russian humanitarian convoy are parked not far from a checkpoint at the Ukrainian border some 30 km outside the town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky in the Rostov region, on August 19, 2014. A tension between Moscow and Kiev simmering over Russia's decision to try and deliver what it claims to be a huge humanitarian aid convoy that the Ukrainian authorities fear may be used to smuggle in arms to the pro-Kremlin insurgents. AFP PHOTO/DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV (Photo credit should read DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Drivers prepare to show cargos to journalists in a field where the aid convoy is parked in Voronezh, about 28 kilometers (17 miles) from Ukrainian border, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. The Ukrainian government threatened to use all means available to block the convoy if the Red Cross was not allowed to inspect the cargo. Such an inspection would ease concerns that Russia could use the aid shipment as cover for a military incursion in support of the separatists, who have come under growing pressure from government troops. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Cargo of one of aid convoy trucks is shown to journalists in Voronezh, about 28 kilometers (17 miles) from Ukrainian border, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. The Ukrainian government threatened to use all means available to block the convoy if the Red Cross was not allowed to inspect the cargo. Such an inspection would ease concerns that Russia could use the aid shipment as cover for a military incursion in support of the separatists, who have come under growing pressure from government troops. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Bottles with water are placed in the back of a truck as Russian Ministry of Emergency Situation decided to show the aid convoy to journalists in Voronezh, about 28 kilometers (17 miles) from Ukrainian border, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. The Ukrainian government threatened to use all means available to block the convoy if the Red Cross was not allowed to inspect the cargo. Such an inspection would ease concerns that Russia could use the aid shipment as cover for a military incursion in support of the separatists, who have come under growing pressure from government troops. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
A man takes a picture of an aid convoy witch is parked in Voronezh, about 28 kilometers (17 miles) from Ukrainian border, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. The Ukrainian government threatened to use all means available to block the convoy if the Red Cross was not allowed to inspect the cargo. Such an inspection would ease concerns that Russia could use the aid shipment as cover for a military incursion in support of the separatists, who have come under growing pressure from government troops. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
A driver jumps out from a truck which he opened to show its cargo to journalists in a field where the aid convoy is parked in Voronezh, about 28 kilometers (17 miles) from Ukrainian border, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. The Ukrainian government threatened to use all means available to block the convoy if the Red Cross was not allowed to inspect the cargo. Such an inspection would ease concerns that Russia could use the aid shipment as cover for a military incursion in support of the separatists, who have come under growing pressure from government troops. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
A driver in the back of his truck shows a tin containing condensed milk to journalists in a field where the aid convoy is parked in Voronezh, about 28 kilometers (17 miles) from Ukrainian border, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. The Ukrainian government threatened to use all means available to block the convoy if the Red Cross was not allowed to inspect the cargo. Such an inspection would ease concerns that Russia could use the aid shipment as cover for a military incursion in support of the separatists, who have come under growing pressure from government troops. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
An aid convoy is parked in Voronezh, about 28 kilometers (17 miles) from Ukrainian border, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. The Ukrainian government threatened to use all means available to block the convoy if the Red Cross was not allowed to inspect the cargo. Such an inspection would ease concerns that Russia could use the aid shipment as cover for a military incursion in support of the separatists, who have come under growing pressure from government troops. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
A driver stands near trucks as an aid convoy is parked in Voronezh, about 28 kilometers (17 miles) from Ukrainian border, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. The Ukrainian government threatened to use all means available to block the convoy if the Red Cross was not allowed to inspect the cargo. Such an inspection would ease concerns that Russia could use the aid shipment as cover for a military incursion in support of the separatists, who have come under growing pressure from government troops. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
An aid convoy is parked in Voronezh, about 28 kilometers (17 miles) from Ukrainian border, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. The Ukrainian government threatened to use all means available to block the convoy if the Red Cross was not allowed to inspect the cargo. Such an inspection would ease concerns that Russia could use the aid shipment as cover for a military incursion in support of the separatists, who have come under growing pressure from government troops. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
In this image taken from video a convoy of white trucks with humanitarian aid leaves Alabino, outside Moscow Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. The convoy of 280 Russian trucks headed for eastern Ukraine early Tuesday, one day after agreement was reached on an international humanitarian relief mission. But the international Red Cross, which is due to coordinate the operation, said it had no information on what the trucks were carrying or where they were going. (AP Photo/ RTR via Associated Press Television) TV OUT RUSSIA OUT
In this image taken from video a Russian Orthodox Church clergyman blesses a convoy of white trucks with humanitarian aid in Alabino, outside Moscow Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. The convoy of 280 Russian trucks headed for eastern Ukraine early Tuesday, one day after agreement was reached on an international humanitarian relief mission. But the international Red Cross, which is due to coordinate the operation, said it had no information on what the trucks were carrying or where they were going. (AP Photo/RTR, via Associated Press Television) TV OUT RUSSIA OUT
In this taken from video a convoy of white trucks with humanitarian aid is ready to leave Alabino, outside Moscow Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. The convoy of 280 Russian trucks headed for eastern Ukraine early Tuesday, one day after agreement was reached on an international humanitarian relief mission. But the international Red Cross, which is due to coordinate the operation, said it had no information on what the trucks were carrying or where they were going. (AP Photo/RTR via Associated Press Televison) TV OUT RUSSIA OUT
In this image taken from video a convoy of white trucks with humanitarian aid on its way to Voronezh, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. The convoy of 280 Russian trucks headed for eastern Ukraine early Tuesday, one day after agreement was reached on an international humanitarian relief mission. But the international Red Cross, which is due to coordinate the operation, said it had no information on what the trucks were carrying or where they were going. (AP Photo/ RTR via Associated Press Television) TV OUT RUSSIA OUT
People cross the border at a checkpoint of Pletnyovka, Kharkiv region on Ukraine-Russia border, where Russian humanitarian convoy is to cross the border on August 13, 2014. Ukraine's interior minister insisted Wednesday that Kiev would not let any Russian convoy onto its territory, saying any 'provocation by the cynical aggressor' would be blocked. 'No 'humanitarian convoy' of Putin's will be allowed to cross the territory of the Kharkiv region,' Ukraine's interior minister Arsen Avakov wrote on Facebook, adding that 'provocation by the cynical aggressor will not be permitted on our territory.' AFP PHOTO/ ANATOLII STEPANOV (Photo credit should read ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images)
People cross the border at a checkpoint of Pletnyovka, Kharkiv region on Ukraine-Russia border, where Russian humanitarian convoy is to cross the border on August 13, 2014. Ukraine's interior minister insisted Wednesday that Kiev would not let any Russian convoy onto its territory, saying any 'provocation by the cynical aggressor' would be blocked. 'No 'humanitarian convoy' of Putin's will be allowed to cross the territory of the Kharkiv region,' Ukraine's interior minister Arsen Avakov wrote on Facebook, adding that 'provocation by the cynical aggressor will not be permitted on our territory.' AFP PHOTO/ ANATOLII STEPANOV (Photo credit should read ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images)
An Ukrainian soldier stands guard at a checkpoint of Pletnyovka, Kharkiv region on Ukraine-Russia border, where Russian humanitarian convoy is to cross the border on August 13, 2014. Ukraine's interior minister insisted Wednesday that Kiev would not let any Russian convoy onto its territory, saying any 'provocation by the cynical aggressor' would be blocked. 'No 'humanitarian convoy' of Putin's will be allowed to cross the territory of the Kharkiv region,' Ukraine's interior minister Arsen Avakov wrote on Facebook, adding that 'provocation by the cynical aggressor will not be permitted on our territory.' AFP PHOTO/ ANATOLII STEPANOV (Photo credit should read ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images)
An Ukrainian soldier stands guard at a checkpoint of Pletnyovka, Kharkiv region on Ukraine-Russia border, where Russian humanitarian convoy is to cross the border on August 13, 2014. Ukraine's interior minister insisted Wednesday that Kiev would not let any Russian convoy onto its territory, saying any 'provocation by the cynical aggressor' would be blocked. 'No 'humanitarian convoy' of Putin's will be allowed to cross the territory of the Kharkiv region,' Ukraine's interior minister Arsen Avakov wrote on Facebook, adding that 'provocation by the cynical aggressor will not be permitted on our territory.' AFP PHOTO/ ANATOLII STEPANOV (Photo credit should read ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images)
An Ukrainian border guard stands guard at the checkpoint of Pletnyovka, Kharkiv region on the Ukraine-Russia border, where a Russian humanitarian convoy must to cross on August 13, 2014. Ukraine's interior minister insisted Wednesday that Kiev would not let any Russian convoy onto its territory, saying any 'provocation by the cynical aggressor' would be blocked. 'No 'humanitarian convoy' of Putin's will be allowed to cross the territory of the Kharkiv region,' Ukraine's interior minister Arsen Avakov wrote on Facebook, adding that 'provocation by the cynical aggressor will not be permitted on our territory.' AFP PHOTO/ ANATOLII STEPANOV (Photo credit should read ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images)
An Ukrainian border guard checks a passing car at a checkpoint of Pletnyovka, Kharkiv region on Ukraine-Russia border, where Russian humanitarian convoy is to cross the border on August 13, 2014. Ukraine's interior minister insisted Wednesday that Kiev would not let any Russian convoy onto its territory, saying any 'provocation by the cynical aggressor' would be blocked. 'No 'humanitarian convoy' of Putin's will be allowed to cross the territory of the Kharkiv region,' Ukraine's interior minister Arsen Avakov wrote on Facebook, adding that 'provocation by the cynical aggressor will not be permitted on our territory.' AFP PHOTO/ ANATOLII STEPANOV (Photo credit should read ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A driver washes the windshield of his truck as an aid convoy is parked in Voronezh, about 28 kilometers (17 miles) from Ukrainian border, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. The Ukrainian government threatened to use all means available to block the convoy if the Red Cross was not allowed to inspect the cargo. Such an inspection would ease concerns that Russia could use the aid shipment as cover for a military incursion in support of the separatists, who have come under growing pressure from government troops. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
An aid convoy is parked about 28 kilometers (17 miles) from Ukrainian border, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. The Ukrainian government threatened to use all means available to block the convoy if the Red Cross was not allowed to inspect the cargo. Such an inspection would ease concerns that Russia could use the aid shipment as cover for a military incursion in support of the separatists, who have come under growing pressure from government troops. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
An elderly man and woman look at trucks, marked as being from a bitterly disputed Russian aid convoy to Ukraine, as they return to Russia on the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. An Associated Press reporter counted 67 trucks entering the border crossing in the Russian city of Donetsk before noon Saturday. Another AP reporter on the Ukrainian side of the border said a line of trucks about 3 kilometers (2 miles) long was waiting to cross. The checkpoint on the Ukrainian side was being operated by separatist rebels, who inspected the trucks. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Trucks marked as being from a bitterly disputed Russian aid convoy to Ukraine stand in line as they return to Russia on the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. An Associated Press reporter counted 67 trucks entering the border crossing in the Russian city of Donetsk before noon Saturday. Another AP reporter on the Ukrainian side of the border said a line of trucks about 3 kilometers (2 miles) long was waiting to cross. The checkpoint on the Ukrainian side was being operated by separatist rebels, who inspected the trucks. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
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"Ukraine will liaise with the International Committee of the Red Cross so that we, Ukraine, are not involved in provocations (accusations) that we have been holding up or using force against the vehicles of so-called aid," he told journalists.

The Ukraine conflict has driven relations between Moscow and the West to their lowest level since the Cold War, with Western states imposing sanctions on Moscow and the Kremlin retaliating. NATO has deployed extra troops in member states bordering Russia.

A Reuters witness said some 70 white-painted trucks, part of a column of about 260 that had been waiting at the border for permission for over a week, had crossed onto Ukrainian soil and was heading toward the rebel stronghold of Luhansk escorted by a small number of pro-Moscow separatist fighters.

Ukrainian authorities gave the number of trucks which had crossed variously as 34 and 90.

"They passed into Ukraine without clearance or participation of the International Red Cross or (Ukrainian) border guards," Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told journalists.

"We consider this a direct invasion by Russia of Ukraine," Ukrainian state security chief Valentyn Nalivaychenko said in a separate statement to journalists.

In response to a question whether Ukraine would use air strikes against the convoy, Nalivaychenko said: "Against them, no."

But Ukrainian authorities said the convoy would pass through an area where the rebels were firing and that therefore its security could not be guaranteed.

Luhansk region has been a major focus of conflict in recent days between rebels, who have declared an independent republic, and Ukrainian forces. Luhansk city itself has seen fighting.

Moscow had earlier expressed impatience with holdups at the frontier.

"All excuses to delay sending aid have been exhausted," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement. "The Russian side has taken the decision to act.

"We warn against any attempts to disrupt this purely humanitarian mission," it added.

"Responsibility for any possible consequences of provocations ... will lie, completely and entirely, with those who are prepared to further sacrifice human lives for the sake of their ambitions and geo-political ploys."

RED CROSS DECLINES TO ESCORT

The International Committee for the Red Cross, which both Moscow and Kiev had agreed should supervise the convoy, said it was not escorting it "due to the volatile security situation".

Kiev has been using troops, artillery and air power in an attempt to quell a separatist rebellion that broke out soon after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in March. The last few weeks has seen a string of rebel defeats in a conflict that has killed over 2,000 people.

Kiev and Western capitals have expressed concern that the convoy could be used as a pretext for some form of direct Russian military intervention. Russia, at odds with Kiev since popular protests drove a pro-Russian president from office, denies the accusation as absurd.

Russia says the aid trucks contain food, medical supplies, water and some clothing.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Thursday he would call on President Vladimir Putin to rein in pro-Russian separatists when the two men meet next week and told the Kremlin chief he had "a strong country, a strong army" behind him.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to visit Kiev on Saturday to show her support for Poroshenko - but diplomats say she is also bearing a message that he should consider calling a ceasefire so as not to incur a backlash from Putin.

The dispatch of the Russian convoy onto Ukrainian territory greatly complicates the situation, presenting Ukraine with a stark choice of whether or how to confront what it sees as an illegal incursion.

The Foreign Ministry and Border Guard in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine had no immediate comment on the announcement from Moscow.

Russia denies sending arms and advisers to help the rebels.

After four months of fighting in the industrial, Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, the area faces a humanitarian crisis, lacking supplies of food, medicine and clean water.

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