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Ukraine accuses Russia of sending in tanks, armor

Ukraine Says Russia Has Invaded, Moscow Denies It


NOVOAZOVSK, Ukraine (AP) - Ukraine accused Russia on Thursday of entering its territory with tanks, artillery and troops, and Western powers said Moscow had "outright lied" about its role and dangerously escalated the conflict.

Russia dismissed the allegations, describing the fighters there as "Russian volunteers." The Kremlin has repeatedly denied arming and supporting the separatists who have been fighting Ukrainian troops for four months in the gravest crisis between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War.

NATO said at least 1,000 Russian troops are in Ukraine and later released what it said were satellite photos of Russian self-propelled artillery units moving last week.

Two columns of tanks and other equipment entered southeastern Ukraine at midday, following heavy shelling of the area from Russia that forced overmatched Ukrainian border guards to flee, said Col. Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine's national security council.

"Russian forces have entered Ukraine," President Petro Poroshenko said in Kiev, canceling a foreign trip and calling an emergency meeting of his security council.

He urged Ukrainians to remain calm.

"Destabilization of the situation and panic, this is as much of a weapon of the enemy as tanks," Poroshenko told the council.

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and both leaders agreed Russia must face consequences for its actions.

"We agree - if there was ever any doubt - that Russia is responsible for the violence in eastern Ukraine," Obama said. "The violence is encouraged by Russia. The separatists are trained by Russia, they are armed by Russia, they are funded by Russia."

He added that Russia "has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and the new images of Russian forces inside Ukraine make that plain for the world to see."

But Obama ruled out a military confrontation between the U.S. and Russia. He said Russia's activity in Ukraine would incur "more costs and consequences," though these seemed to be limited to economic pressure that will be discussed when Obama meets with European leaders at a NATO summit in Wales next week.

At an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council, Western representatives expressed outrage.

"Now we see irrefutable evidence of regular Russian forces operating inside Ukraine," said British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said Russia "has manipulated. It has obfuscated. It has outright lied."

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin offered a spirited defense, saying Kiev "is waging war against its own people."

He did deny not the Russian presence, saying "there are Russian volunteers in eastern parts of Ukraine. No one is hiding that."

But Power countered: "A Russian soldier who chooses to fight in Ukraine on summer break is still a Russian soldier."

Churkin questioned the presence of Western advisers and asked where Ukrainian troops were getting weapons. He said he wanted to "send a message to Washington: Stop interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign states."

Russian stock markets fell as Switzerland joined the European Union in imposing restrictions on Russian state banks and fears grew that the U.S. and EU could impose more sanctions on Russian businesses and individuals in response to the military escalation. Russia's MICEX index dropped nearly 2 percent on Thursday, and major Russian state banks VTB and Sberbank dropped more than 4 percent.

The strategic southeastern town of Novoazovsk, which has come under shelling for three days, appeared to be in the control of separatists, creating a new, third front in the war. That raised fears they want to create a land link between Russia and the Crimea Peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in March. The town lies along a road connecting the peninsula to Russia.

Lysenko said the missiles from Russia were fired at Ukrainian positions about 11 a.m. About 90 minutes later, two columns, including tanks and other fighting vehicles, began an attack, entering Ukraine from Veselo-Voznesenka and Maximovo in the Rostov region of Russia, he said.

A senior NATO official said the estimate of 1,000 Russian troops in Ukraine was a conservative one, adding that another 20,000 Russian troops were right over the border. The troops who entered Ukraine had sophisticated equipment, he said.

"The hand from behind is becoming more and more overt now," Brig. Gen. Nico Tak said at NATO's military headquarters.

Russia's ultimate aim was to stave off defeat for the separatists and turn eastern Ukraine into a "frozen conflict" that would destabilize the country indefinitely, he said.

Russia's ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, told the BBC that "NATO has never produced a single piece of evidence" of Russian troops operating in Ukraine. He said the only active duty Russian soldiers in Ukraine were the 10 captured this week, who Moscow insists had mistakenly wandered across the border.

Speaking in Casteau, Belgium, Tak said that in the past two weeks, "we have noted a significant escalation in both the level and sophistication of Russia's military interference in Ukraine."

"Russia is reinforcing and resupplying separatist forces in a blatant attempt to change the momentum of the fighting, which is currently favoring the Ukrainian military," he added.

NATO also produced satellite images to provide what it called additional evidence that Russian combat soldiers, equipped with sophisticated heavy weaponry, are operating inside Ukraine's sovereign territory. The grainy images of the terrain near Krasnodon, Ukraine, showed what appeared to be a convoy of military units with artillery, and NATO said it had "confidence the equipment is Russian."

"This is highly sophisticated weaponry that requires well-trained crews, well-trained command and control elements, and it is extremely unlikely that this sort of equipment is used by volunteers," Tak said.

He said the satellite images were only "the tip of the iceberg" in terms of the overall scope of Russian troop and weapons movements.

Asked about the NATO images, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said in a statement to Russian news agencies that "to comment on this seriously just makes no sense."

Southeastern Ukraine had previously escaped the fighting that has engulfed areas to the north, and the only way rebels could have reached the southeast was by coming through Russia.

If separatists create a land corridor from Russia to Crimea, it could give them or Russia control over the entire Sea of Azov and the gas and mineral riches that energy experts believe it contains. Ukraine already lost roughly half its coastline, several major ports and significant Black Sea mineral rights in Russia's annexation of Crimea.

In Mariupol, a city of 450,000 people about 30 kilometers (20 miles) west of Novoazovsk, a brigade of Ukrainian forces arrived at the airport Wednesday, while deep trenches were dug a day earlier on the city's edge.

National guard spokesman Ruslan Muzychuk told Associated Press reporters in the city that the government has evidence large amounts of weapons have been brought into Novoazovsk from Russia.

He added that national guard reinforcements were taking up positions in Mariupol.

"The positions are being strengthened," the spokesman said. "The road from Novoazovsk to Mariupol is under the control of Ukrainian troops."

AP journalists on the border have seen the rebels with a wide range of unmarked military equipment - including tanks, Buk missile launchers and armored personnel carriers - and have encountered many Russians among the rebel fighters.

In Donetsk, the largest rebel-held city, 11 people were killed by shelling overnight, city officials said.

The leader of the insurgency, Alexander Zakharchenko, said in an interview on Russian state TV that up to 4,000 Russians have fought on the separatist side since the armed conflict began in April.

Join the discussion

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JedEyeMaster August 28 2014 at 11:08 PM

Duh ? Where is the Ukrainian military to stop them ? If a country cannot protect its borders from illegal entry by whomever, then that country probably will not exist very long.

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9 replies
KCCROM August 28 2014 at 10:35 PM

BHO all the sanctions to date have been a fat zero affect on Putin ! Why don't you go to Moscow and tell him you will send Eric Holder to bring him to justice if he continues his actions against Ukraine !

Flag Reply +16 rate up
4 replies
Chris Mellonas August 28 2014 at 10:41 PM

Its time for Putin to have an arranged accident to save the world alot of grief, this man is a budding Hitler. The world needs to collectively stand up and shout NEVER AGAIN !!!!!!!!!

Flag Reply +11 rate up
6 replies
wetjets August 29 2014 at 12:30 AM

Budapest Agreement of 1994. We agreed to protect Ukraine if it gave its nuclear weapons to Russia. Ukraine did, If we now do not drone Putin to hell and Russians soldiers out of Ukraine then we become the liars of the world. Ukraine was the third largest nuclear power when they believed the USA.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
11 replies
aljoramaggio August 29 2014 at 1:18 AM

For a President who is so concerned about the sovereignty of the borders of Ukraine, and is quick to condemn Russia, he sure doesn't give a rat's arse about our own.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
2 replies
Deal Project aljoramaggio August 29 2014 at 2:49 AM

lol...

Flag Reply +1 rate up
crowland503 aljoramaggio August 29 2014 at 7:24 AM

Only when this country gets a true President who gives a damn about doing the job right. The phony, deadbeat POTUS is the best friend ISIS can ever ask for! Obama wants to turn this nation into a third world country to satisfy his university liberal ideology.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
eeodjo August 28 2014 at 11:24 PM

I hope our leaders in Washington will refresh their minds by going back into WWII history, as we helped the Russians fight against Nazi Germany. What did we get from the Russians in return??? Animosity, jealousness, hatred, and they did not trust us at all. Stole our atom bomb secrets and even the knowledge we learned of outerspace travel from the captured German scientists. So why should we trust Ukraine? They were part of the USSR in WWII!!! Stay out of this mess, I say!

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6 replies
rocher54 August 28 2014 at 10:53 PM

What is Samantha Power going to do about the 400 Americans fighting for ISIS...

Flag Reply +5 rate up
2 replies
hmadden rocher54 August 29 2014 at 4:03 AM

Don't know what she plans to do, but I would suggest a policy of "shoot on sight".

Flag Reply +1 rate up
zooks1 rocher54 August 29 2014 at 7:00 AM

What can she do, she is not the President and the final authority rests with him. The question is why is she doing her job and not Obama.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
RSK1177 August 29 2014 at 12:00 AM

Andrea Merkel will lead the way. She phoned Putin yesterday and Obama talked with Merkel today. Probably to ask what was happening! As usual, Obama's leading from behind. He's lost the credibility of the U.S. to be good allies and other countries are doing things on their own.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
3 replies
quezon7 August 28 2014 at 10:51 PM

These guys over run the country with a gang of thugs, burning and Attacking the Ukrainian police during the Soochi Games.

Then blame Putin for gearing up after the Olympics.
Now they run a coup which I suspect is against our beliefs,,,but apparently it's ok if the coup eliminates the bad guys and installs new bad guys who are anti Russian.

And now the newly elected billionaire president is asking us wage earners 8000 miles away to pick up the Democracy tab, which will surely add up to tens of millions in military weapons credits. While Republicans at 'home' insist on cutting unemployment benefits and welfare for poor folks and raising interest rates on college kids, while cutting Pell Grants and aid to municipalities for schools.

Then blame Obama for not stepping up the rhetoric, as though we need to enter a war with Russia and Syria at the same time. The whole rap is so Frankenstein Dr Hyde it's crippling

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
Welcome, Carole quezon7 August 28 2014 at 11:17 PM

The last thing we need is a war on Russian soil ~~OMG idiots, have you forgotten the 6,000 plus soldiers we sacrificed in Iraq? We need to let this remain between Ukraine and Russia. Ukraine was once a part of Russia and Democracy has not worked for them. What do we care if they return to the Russian leadership.
One of the wealthiest countries in the world (our neighbor CANADA) does not have a Democratic government and you don't see us threatening them if they don't become a democracy.
"Live and let live". We need to worry about our own country and the massive problems we have here at home. We need to stay out of other countries business unless it creates a threat to our homeland and the Russian and Ukraine situation DOES NOT .

Flag Reply +1 rate up
2 replies
stvhndyman Welcome, Carole August 29 2014 at 4:46 AM

Well said!

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zooks1 Welcome, Carole August 29 2014 at 7:03 AM

Ukraine was never Russian it was occupied by Russia at one time, even Crimea belongs to the Tatars. The kievan Rus existed 2 centuries before Muscovite Russia. Not to mention Ukrainians still remember the Russian genocide.

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plybon72 August 28 2014 at 11:10 PM

"Russian volunteers." Are allowed to run off with Russian Military equipment?

What kind of a Country is Putin running over there?

Perhaps they would like to help us retrieve that "stolen" equipment?

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
Steve plybon72 August 29 2014 at 1:25 AM

It will be more rewarding to help them send it to a new 'recycling' program for their lost equipment.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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