According to a security spokesman, two columns of Russian tanks crossed the border into eastern Ukraine and forced border guards to flee. Now fears emerge that rebels are trying ro create a land link with the help of Russian forces between Russia and Crimea.
Col. Andriy Lysenko, Ukrainian Security Council spokesman, reported that Russian forces fired Grand missile systems towards Ukrainian fighters at around 11 a.m. An hour after the attacks, two columns of military vehicles (fighting vehicles and tanks) started attacking the border post, Lysenko says. They entered Ukraine soon after that from the Veselo-Voznesenka and the Rostov regions in Russia.
Ukrainian fighters retreated from the border post because they lacked heavy equipment to stand a chance against the Russian fighters.
In the meantime, NATO has been following Russian fighter movements in Ukraine and reported that around 1,000 Russian troops crossed the border into Ukraine with sophisticated military equipment. According to NATO officials, the Russian fighters also directly confronted Ukrainian forces. Officials didn’t specify exactly how the troops met and how many casualties followed after the encounter.
Brig. Gen. Nico Tak explained at the NATO headquarters that Russia is trying to turn eastern Ukraine into what he calls a frozen conflict. If they would succeed, they could destabilize Ukraine indefinitely.
What is more worrisome is the fact that, according to NATO reports, over 20,000 Russian troops are right over the Russian border.
Curiously, a leader of pro-Russian separatists actually admitted that Russia had been supporting them with fighters, as he declared that thousands of Russian soldiers had fought alongside his troops.
Alexander Zakharchenko, the rebel leader told Russian television that between 3,000-4,000 Russian soldiers had joined his forces. According to the BBC, the soldiers are either military personnel on leave or former Russian service members. What Alexander Zakharchenko noted, however, was that any Russian soldier that had joined his ranks did so voluntarily. He denied any claims that Russian soldiers had had any orders from Moscow.
Russia’s ambassador, however, insists that NATO hasn’t produced any evidence of Russian troops in Ukraine. Vladimir Chizhov, ambassador to the EU, said that only 10 Russian soldiers had crossed into Ukraine this week, and they were the 10 soldiers that Ukrainian personnel captured. He added that the captured soldiers had not been sent into Russia. According to Chizhov, they had wandered mistakenly across the border.
In light of this tense international situation, the U.S. has promised to send hundreds of American fighters into eastern and central European countries.