Russia/Ukraine: Russian armour moving into Ukraine
Summary: Western journalists following the Russian “humanitarian” convoy report Russian military vehicles crossing over into Ukraine.
More salami slices here. The Russian convoy has not ended up at the border entry point north of Kharkiv (and controlled by Ukraine border troops) as originally intended but has ended up opposite eastern Ukraine bear to the only border entry point controlled by separatists. No one (and certainly not the Red Cross!) is really sure what is going to happen with it. A photo of the contents of one truck seemed to show a lot of space inside.
Russian armoured convoys and helicopters in large quantities are being routinely observed by the equally numerous Western journalists on the fields, roads and motorways in and around Rostov – some are being spotted with peacekeeping signs on the vehicles.
The Daily Telegraph (and other journalists) are reporting Russian military vehicles crossing into Ukraine over last night:
Daily Telegraph, 14 Aug: A column of armoured vehicles and military trucks crossed the border from Russia into Ukraine on Thursday night, in the first confirmed sighting of such an incident by Western journalists.
A separate, larger convoy of around 270 Russian trucks, which Moscow claims is carrying aid, rumbled to a halt just short of the border on Thursday night, while in east Ukraine, shells hit the centre of rebel-held Donetsk for the first time.
The Telegraph witnessed a column of vehicles including both armoured personal carriers and soft-skinned lorries crossing into Ukraine at an obscure border crossing near the Russian town of Donetsk shortly before 10pm local time.
The Ukrainian and Western governments have long accused Russia of filtering arms and men across the border to fuel the separatist insurgency in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions, but such an incident has never before been witnessed by Western journalists.
The convoy, which included at least 23 vehicles, appeared to be waiting until sunset near a refugee camp just outside Donetsk, before moving towards the crossing without turning off headlights or making any other attempt to conceal itself.
The Guardian saw a column of 23 armoured personnel carriers, supported by fuel trucks and other logistics vehicles with official Russian military plates, travelling towards the border near the Russian town of Donetsk.
After pausing by the side of the road until nightfall, the convoy crossed into Ukrainian territory, using a rough dirt track and clearly crossing through a gap in a barbed wire fence that demarcates the border. Armed men were visible in the gloom by the border fence as the column moved into Ukraine. Kiev has lost control of its side of the border in this area.
The trucks are unlikely to represent a full-scale official Russian invasion, and it was unclear how far they planned to travel inside Ukrainian territory and how long they would stay. But it was incontrovertible evidence of what Ukraine has long claimed – that Russian troops are active inside its borders.