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Crisis in Central Europe

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Ukraine Reports a Strike on a Russian Armored Column in Ukrainian Territory

August 15th 2014

Russian tourist in Ukraine

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on August 15 that Ukrainian forces have destroyed substantial part of a Russian column of armored personnel carriers that crossed into Ukrainian territory from Russia. The Ukrainian presidential press service said that Poroshenko told British Prime Minister David Cameron that "a significant part of the equipment" had been destroyed by Ukrainian artillery.

Ukrainian border guards and customs officers had crossed today into Russia to inspect a convoy of more than 250 trucks. Russia says the trucks were carrying water, food, and other aid for people in eastern Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces are fighting pro-Russian separatists. Western officials and media had expressed concern that the aid convoy was a mere pretext for a military incursion.

Poroshenko, in an Augusst 15 telephone conversation, told British Prime Minister David Cameron that "a significant part of the equipment" had been destroyed by Ukrainian artillery. Reporters for two British newspapers reported on August 14 seeing about 23 Russian armored personnel carriers (APCs) cross into Ukraine.

The APCs had earlier joined a Russian aid convoy not far from the border. A Ukrainian military spokesman said Ukrainian forces had tracked the Russian armored column as soon as it crossed into Ukraine.

The Russian Foreign Ministry had earlier accused Ukraine of attempting to disrupt what it says is a Russian humanitarian aid mission to eastern Ukraine and called for a cease-fire to allow for deliveries.

Reacting to the reports of the destruction of the armored column, the Russian Defense Ministry denied that Ukrainian forces had done so while denying that any such military force had crossed into eastern Ukraine. The ministry in a statement dismissed the Ukrainian report as "some kind of fantasy."

However, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen confirmed the reports of the "Russian incursion" after British media reported on seeing the convoy of armored vehicles cross the border. "It just confirms the fact that we see a continued flow of weapons and fighters from Russia into the eastern Ukraine," he said. "It is a clear demonstration of continued Russian involvement in the destabilisation of eastern Ukraine."

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin announced he will meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Berlin on August 17 for talks alongside the top diplomats from France and Germany.

"Be it a square table or a round one, we need to talk," Klimkin wrote on Twitter.

-- from RFE/RL and wire services.


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