JOURNALISTS: We Just Saw Russian Military Vehicles Cross Into Ukraine

The Guardian’s Moscow correspondent, Shaun Walker, and The Telegraph’s Roland Oliphant tweeted today that a column of armoured personnel carriers (ACPs) and other Russian military vehicles have crossed over the Ukrainian border.

Vladimir Putin’s government is sending a convoy of unmarked white trucks to Ukraine, and military vehicles started travelling alongside a supposed Russian aid convoy earlier on Thursday.

Most of the fleet of more than 262 vehicles, including about 200 trucks carrying aid, stopped 15 miles from the border of Ukraine’s rebel-held eastern region of Luhansk.

If these reports are correct, a separate military convoy has apparently continued into Ukraine.

Walker does not believe that the APCs constitute an invasion force. Instead, this movement of Russian forces into Ukraine is likely a continuation of an ongoing Russian policy along the border, where Moscow has constantly pushed the limits of Ukrainian sovereignty in its attempts to aid pro-Russian separatists inside the country.

Four months of fighting in the east have produced a humanitarian crisis in parts of eastern Ukraine. People in the main cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, on the border with Russia, are suffering acute shortages of water, food, and electricity.

Screen Shot 2014 08 14 at 12.30.15 PMNSDCThe military situation in Ukraine, according to Kiev.

The past few weeks have seen significant government successes against rebels who have abandoned a string of towns under heavy fire. Kiev says rebel leaders, some of whom are Russians and who seek union with Russia, are receiving arms from Moscow, something the Kremlin denies.

The approach of the convoy presents Kiev with a dilemma.

Ukraine says it fears it could become the focus of tension and conflict once on its soil and provide pretext for a Russian armed incursion. At the same time, Kiev does not want to seem to be blocking aid and providing a moral basis for Kremlin action.

Moscow, which sees Russian-speakers in the east under threat from a government it considers chauvinistic, said any suggestion of a link between the convoy and an invasion plan was absurd.

Russia has continued to increase its military presence along the Ukrainian border despite international pressure. There are an estimated 20,000 Russian troops currently deployed along Ukraine’s eastern border who are “capable of a wide spectrum of military operations,” according to Pentagon press secretary Navy Rear Admiral John Kirby.

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