Russia has denied sending tanks across the Ukraine border instead blaming “volunteer” separatists for the incident.
“Three Russian tanks and other military vehicles crossed the border into Ukraine on Thursday,” reported CNN, “prompting a skirmish between Ukrainian and Russian forces, acting Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry told the BBC there was no truth to the report.
“Words and images clashed Thursday as separatists drove three tanks across the Russian border into Ukraine, according to Ukrainian officials,” reported the Washington Post.
When Russia seized the Crimea area of Ukraine earlier this year, it claimed that fighters who flooded into the area were volunteer separatists.
“According to Avakov,” reported CNN, “tanks crossed the border at a checkpoint controlled by pro-Russian separatists in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine. Armored vehicles and artillery were part of the columns, Avakov said, citing Ukrainian intelligence. Two of the tanks split off and headed in the direction of Gorlovka, also known as Horlivka, and were attacked by Ukrainian military forces.”
Avakov told the Post Ukrainian troops attacked the convoy, destroying part of it.
“In Moscow, meanwhile, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Kiev must show its peaceful intentions before a truce can be reached,” reported the Post.
“We know that the self-defense forces in the southeast are prepared for a cease-fire, but according to the rules, the first step needs to be made by the Kiev authorities,” he said.
“Russia has denied sending troops or weapons to Ukraine,” reported David McHugh for the Associated Press, “describing Russian citizens who have joined the armed separatists as volunteers.”
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said if the military incursion was confirmed, it would be a "serious and disturbing escalation of the crisis in eastern Ukraine."
Publication date: June 13, 2014