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Unconfirmed report of three Russian tanks on Ukrainian territory

June 12, 2014

Summary: BBC, quoting Ukrainian government sources, report three Russian tanks moving into Ukraine.

astern_ukraine_624The BBC, quoting the Urainian interior ministry, have reported something odd – three Russian tanks have apparently moved into Ukraine from Russia:

BBC, 12 June 2014, 16.01pm: Ukraine’s interior minister has said that three tanks have crossed the border from Russia into rebel areas of the east and fighting is under way.  The tanks entered Ukraine along with other armour through a checkpoint controlled by rebels in the Luhansk region, Arsen Avakov said.  The army engaged two of them and destroyed part of the column, he said…Mr Avakov said the tanks had crossed the border from Russia along with armoured personnel carriers and artillery pieces in the Dyakove area of Luhansk region before moving into the neighbouring Donetsk region.

There, Ukraine’s interior minister said, the tanks headed for the town of Snizhne on Thursday morning. Two then proceeded to the town of Horlivka and were attacked by government forces.

“The fight is under way,” Mr Avakov said. “I cannot say about its final outcome, but part of this column has been destroyed.”

Unverified video has been posted on Youtube of a battle tank rolling down a street said to be in Snizhne. The footage was shot from a flat overlooking the street.

The report needs be flagged up but at the same time must be treated as highly suspect and unconfirmed.  The Youtube video may be totally unrelated and the bulk of Russian and Ukrainian army equipment is more or less the same.  There are many reasons – from accident through incompetence to design – why such a report could emerge and be at the same time wholly inaccurate.  “Little Green Tanks” would be a lot harder for the Russians to deny and a more conventional armed incursion would be fraught with risk.  Although several other news agencies have picked up the story they all seem to be running the same Kiev statement.  We need to see what other sources emerge.  If Russia decided to “trickle” its intervention, it might make sense to send in equipment that looked identical to the Ukrainian order of battle.

Update:  the video footage linked above identifies the battle tank as a T-72.  I believe it is much more likely to be a variant of the T-64 – small wheels with gaps between the wheels.  T-72 wheels are closer together and bigger.  Both Russia and Ukraine have both.

A T-64, not a T-72 as claimed

A T-64, not a T-72 as claimed

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