News / Europe

    US: No Confirmation on Reports Russian Military Entered Ukraine

    Russian military vehicles maneuver on a road 9 miles from the Ukrainian border in the Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Aug. 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
    Russian military vehicles maneuver on a road 9 miles from the Ukrainian border in the Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Aug. 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

    The White House says it cannot confirm reports that Ukrainian troops destroyed a Russian military convoy that had allegedly crossed into eastern Ukraine.

    Spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said late Friday officials are working to gather information on the situation. She said the U.S. remains concerned about repeated Russian and Russian-supported incursions into Ukraine.

    Earlier Friday, Ukraine’s president said government troops destroyed a column of military vehicles that crossed into eastern Ukraine from Russia as a convoy of Russian trucks purportedly carrying humanitarian aid remained stalled near the border awaiting inspection.

    The incident, which NATO confirmed and said involved Russian weaponry, was vehemently denied by Russia’s Defense Ministry, which told news agencies the report was “some kind of fantasy.”

    A top separatist official in Donetsk also dismissed the assertion, saying it was in fact separatist fighters that had ambushed a Ukrainian military column.

    Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have neared boiling point in recent days, as the convoy of more than 250 trucks journeyed south from the Moscow region to the two countries’ border.

    The Kremlin has insisted the trucks are carrying food and supplies for residents in the besieged Ukrainian city of Luhansk and other locations. Kyiv and Western officials, however, fear they could be used as a pretext for a full-scale Russian invasion.

    NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks during an interview with Reuters at alliance headquarters in Brussels August 11, 2014.NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks during an interview with Reuters at alliance headquarters in Brussels August 11, 2014.
    x
    NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks during an interview with Reuters at alliance headquarters in Brussels August 11, 2014.
    NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks during an interview with Reuters at alliance headquarters in Brussels August 11, 2014.

    Now in its fifth month, the Russian-backed insurgency has sent relations between Moscow and the West to Cold War levels, and prompted major Western sanctions in an effort to persuade President Vladimir Putin to scale back his support for rebels.

    A statement on President Petro Poroshenko’s official Web site said Ukrainian troops had destroyed a significant portion of the military column, which reportedly involved Russian armored personnel carriers and other vehicles.

    The statement also said the military vehicles were crossing into Ukraine, about 20 miles from where the Russian aid convoy was stopped. It was unclear if the column was officially part of the Russian armed forces, or operated by Russian-backed rebels. Several Western media outlets reported the crossing early Friday.

    According to a statement posted on the the president's website, Poroshenko told British Prime Minister David Cameron about the development during a telephone call.

    European Union ministers on Friday urged Russia to put an "immediate stop" to all forms of hostilities near the Ukrainian border.

    At a news conference later Friday, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen called it "a Russian incursion.”

    "It is a clear demonstration of continued Russian involvement in the destabilization of eastern Ukraine,” Rasmussen said, speaking in Copenhagen.

    Russia's Defense Ministry, however, said no such military force had crossed the border.

    "There was no Russian military column that crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border either at night or during the day,” state news agency RIA Novosti quoted the ministry as saying.

    Alexander Zakharchenko, the self-proclaimed prime minister for the Donetsk People’s Republic, told VOA that the vehicles that were attacked were in fact Ukrainian and were attacked by rebel fighters, who seized weaponry and other equipment.

    In a statement Friday, European Union foreign ministers said any unilateral military action by Russia would be considered “a blatant violation of international law.”

    Russia should "put an immediate stop to any form of border hostilities, in particular to the flow of arms, military advisers, and armed personnel into the conflict region, and to withdraw its forces from the border,” the ministers meeting in Brussels said.

    The United Nations said it could not verify the reports of the column being destroyed. "Such reports point to the urgent need for immediate de-escalation and a resolution of the conflict through dialogue," spokesman Farhan Haq said.

    Concerns about convoy

    Earlier Friday, there were conflicting reports whether Ukrainian customs and borders had started inspecting the humanitarian convoy.

    Ukraine’s border service said the inspection had begun, but a top security official, Andriy Lysenko, later denied that, saying authorities hadn’t yet received a detailed listing of the trucks’ contents.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross, which Russia said would participate in the aid distribution, also suggested that no inspections had begun as of late Friday afternoon local time.

    Swift action was needed to allow “confirmation of the strictly humanitarian nature of the cargo,” the Geneva-based organization said.

    Much of eastern Ukraine lacks medical supplies, water and electricity, as Ukrainian forces have pressed their offensive . Russia, which has denied directly arming the rebels, has said the convoy was aimed at alleviating suffering in the city of Luhansk and other parts of eastern Ukraine.

    Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
    x
    Click to enlarge
    Click to enlarge

    Meanwhile, two of the most senior pro-Russian separatists battling Ukraine forces near the Russian border quit Thursday, as Ukrainian troops pummeled locations near the rebel-held cities of Luhansk and Donetsk.

    Artillery shells struck the center of Donetsk for the first time since rebels launched their rebellion against Ukrainian rule in April. Western news reports say at least 25 people were killed in the Donetsk shelling, while Ukraine reported nine troops killed.

    The departures of Igor Strelkov and Valery Bolotov came as Russian President Vladimir Putin met with lawmakers in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia seized from Ukraine and annexed earlier this year.

    The departure of Strelkov and Borodai had prompted speculation that recent battlefield losses had forced the rebels’ Russian backers to push for leadership changes. Zakharchenko, however, denied reports that the insurgents’ leadership was in disarray. 

    In an interview with VOA Friday, Zakharchenko said Strelkov was on vacation before taking up a more regional post overseeing insurgency activities in both Donetsk and Luhansk.

    Obama To Visit Baltics

    Russia's actions in Crimea and along the Ukrainian border have deeply worried countries like Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, former Soviet states that are all now members of NATO. The three Baltic nations, along with other countries like Poland, have called for a greater NATO military presence in eastern regions, to deter Moscow from repeating tactics it has used in Ukraine.

    On Friday, the White House announced President Obama would be traveling to Estonia next month to meet with the Baltic leaders about Ukraine. The statement made specific mention of the central clause to the alliance, Article V, which says that an attack on one member is considered an attack on all members.

    “In light of recent developments in Ukraine, the United States has taken steps to reassure allies in Central and Eastern Europe, and this trip is a chance to reaffirm our ironclad commitment to Article V as the foundation of NATO,” the statement said.

    • President Vladimir Putin (left) listens to Sberbank President German Gref (right) in Yalta , Crimea, Aug. 14, 2014.
    • President Vladimir Putin addresses members of Crimea's parliament. While in a meeting with lawmakers, he commented that his country was doing, "all we can to stop bloodshed in Ukraine as soon as possible," about 30 km from Yalta, Crimea. Aug. 14, 2014.
    • A local man stands next to a shell crater with his destroyed house in the background, in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine,  Aug. 14, 2014.
    • Local resident Valentina Smirnova reacts as she stands in her home destroyed by shell attacks, in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Aug. 14, 2014.
    • Local resident Svetlana Avdyukhin displays large fragments of a shell, in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Aug. 14, 2014.
    • A convoy of white trucks with humanitarian aid parked in a field about 28 kilometers from the Ukrainian border in Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Aug. 14, 2014.

    VOA's Margaret Besheer contributed to this report from the United Nations. Some information was provided by AFP, the Associated Press and Reuters.

     

     

    You May Like

    Turkey, West in Standoff Over Syrian Refugees

    Turkish government refuses to admit refugees, the first in a wave of civilians fleeing offensive by Assad regime in northern Aleppo countryside

    Jailed American Testifies About Islamist Involvement in Mumbai Attacks

    David Headley testifies via video link that Pakistan-based Islamic terror group made two failed attempts to mount strikes in Mumbai in months prior to coordinated assault

    These Are the 10 Smartest US States

    A new report breaks down the nation's best and brightest

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 3
        Next 
    by: Tom from: Minnesota
    August 17, 2014 9:00 PM
    This entire problem in Ukraine can be resolved by the Russian Federation not getting involved with the conflict in Ukraine and if Russian citizens of Ukraine are unhappy with the Ukraine government... then influence a change in policies or leave the country. If civil war starts... no other country should get involved. I have not seen any pictures of Ukraine invading Russia only the opposite... so it certainly seems that Russia is the culprit here.

    by: Jacob from: Millies
    August 17, 2014 1:51 PM
    With The Help Of The Chinese, Germany, France, Or Just Russia and China Can Destroy and Crush The United States Of America. Americans are too busy fighting themselves and had become cowards to fight back!!!!!!

    by: Rojm
    August 16, 2014 3:09 PM
    There is so much happening this summer. Can the news media try to lay off ramping up this conflict. News media try to do so good. How about telling the world to give food and water to the civilians caught in the conflict? Are the west and the Ukraine like IS in that they want civilians dead. They are bit modern and do not say it out loud. Somebody has to give food and water to the civilians.

    by: Anonymous
    August 16, 2014 7:14 AM
    USA is the main cause of conflicts throughout the world.
    In Response

    by: Will from: London
    August 16, 2014 7:28 PM
    Maybe you can expand on your comment about USA is the main cause of conflict throughout the world. What is your rationale and where are you from? Would be nice to have some context? Are you aware of the Frontline club? This is a good source for accurate news globally.
    In Response

    by: chompers from: petaluma
    August 16, 2014 2:24 PM
    Hey John LeGualt, where did you read the word all in the post from Anonymous? Perhaps you should become 'informed' with english. good luck.
    In Response

    by: John LeGault from: North Carolina
    August 16, 2014 10:36 AM
    Cause of some conflicts, not all. You're generalization makes you appear greatly uninformed

    by: Will from: London
    August 16, 2014 3:00 AM
    I was in Kharkiv the day Ukraine's old president fled. The people were happy. Ukraine has a legitimate president and government voted in by the population. Ukraine is an independent country and Russia has no right over them or their land. Putin and Russia has no rights in Ukraine so stop behaving like terrorists. Shooting down an airliner constitutes a war crime in my eyes. Remember Putin is ex KGB. An ex spy, probably with blood on his hands. Need I say more. I an not Ukrainian. I am Chinese to put my comments into context.
    In Response

    by: Will from: London
    August 18, 2014 4:36 PM
    If Russia claims no right to Ukraine then why are they still in Crimea? Duh!
    In Response

    by: Will from: London
    August 18, 2014 4:35 PM
    Well, it would seem that some people are calling me a liar. I have no reason to lie, I am not American nor Ukrainian, but I was there and I can see for myself 1st hand, unlike others. Propaganda is for those who are not able to see for themselves. Not going to respond to these comments anymore as some of you should go to Ukraine and see for yourself.... After that, you can comment!
    In Response

    by: TrueBlue from: Australia
    August 18, 2014 12:06 AM
    You better go and read some information about terrorism! And the first thing - make it clear for yourself who you call terrorists in Ukraine. Don't follow up Obama's propaganda and try to have your own independent opinion, otherwise you look as stupid and silly as a monkey.
    In Response

    by: Putin the Great from: Russia
    August 17, 2014 2:55 AM
    Your accusations are unsubstantiated. First, Russia claims no right over Ukraine. The airliner was shot down by ukrainian army. There are no proofs of Putin or Russia involvement in the plane crash. The black boxes were not decephered yet. You have never been in Kharkiv and you are a propagandist.
    In Response

    by: Will from: London
    August 16, 2014 7:22 PM
    Anonymous, I never said Russia shot down the Malaysian airline and my head is not in my ass (how rude!). I was implying the supply of arms to terrorists that shot down a civilian plane. I agree propaganda is everywhere but again you make an assumption that I follow only US news. I do not live in the US and I watch news from Ukraine and Russia as well as the UK and from other parts of Europe. I am also in contact with people in Eastern Ukraine almost everyday so I think I am a bit more informed then yourself. Why don't you watch the Russian documentaries on Putin. That might give you some context! Oh, does Russia still occupy Crimea? Yes other countries in the world may just be as bad, but this article is about Ukraine, so I will make not comment on the rights and wrongs. I would be here all night :)
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    August 16, 2014 5:12 PM
    Will, before making those absorbs comments buddy, get your head out of the ass and get ur information right. There is no proof that russia shut down that plane, the stuff that US has released are most likely photoshopped as they were released on twitter any creditable information wouldn't be released on twitter.... The west and it's propaganda machine are just as bad as Russian propaganda machine.

    by: Steve from: Germany
    August 16, 2014 1:32 AM
    It's a pleasure for me to suffer dropping in my economy due to sanctions. If we stop impose severe sanctions on Russia,we will have WW3. Cut off Russia's gas to EU!!!!

    by: Igor from: Russia
    August 15, 2014 11:18 PM
    NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen must have given out clear evidences rather than calling it "a Russian incursion.” Mr. Rasmussen should no longer barking arbitrarily like a mad dog after hearing rumours from Kiev and some irresponsible reporters. I am considering if he is receiving wages fromn Kiev or the Guardian.

    by: Mike from: TX
    August 15, 2014 5:00 PM
    A lot of photos have been pouring from Ukraine. Photos of trucks & troops, of gun battles & crashed airplanes. Why no photos of destroyed Russian armored cars on Ukrainian road?
    In Response

    by: Popsiq from: Buganda
    August 16, 2014 9:54 AM
    A Ukrainian column was 'messed up' at the same time Porkoshenko was claiming a Russian column was destroyed. This near the town of Stepanovsk.

    Other photos appear to show Ukrainian units 'enjoying' the campaign.

    NO photos of destroyed 'Russian' equipment.

    by: VL from: USA
    August 15, 2014 4:58 PM
    Putin is going to have a lot to regret before this is over. And it looks like waking up Ukraine is going to be one of his regrets. Odd how power hungry people are so often paranoid. He feared the encroachment of NATO and through his actions, he has strengthened NATO's presence. Foolish man.
    In Response

    by: Mark1956 from: Victoria
    August 15, 2014 9:53 PM
    Oh, my, yes - Putin has awakened a sleeping giant. A fat oligarch president trying to divide his attention between murdering his own citizens (which usually brings a scream of indignation from the United States, but apparently not this time) and running his candy company, of which he remains president also, and a bumbling army which has taken thousands of casualties compared to hundreds on the other side even though it is firing directly into residential areas. I have plenty of substantiation, so please challenge me.

    Strengthened NATO's presence where? Ukraine is not a NATO country. Not even the EU is likely to want it very badly now, since it is bankrupt and its major eastern cities are in ruins. Yes, great job, Putin, strengthening NATO.

    by: rj from: india
    August 15, 2014 4:35 PM
    The American should first think about their doing. You are not the police of the world. See what you have done to Iraq, Syria.
    In Response

    by: Linda Knox
    August 17, 2014 12:41 PM
    Why not focus in this forum on Ukraine and what Putin is doing to innocent Ukrainians?
    In Response

    by: DellStator from: US
    August 16, 2014 12:18 PM
    In Iraq a gov't run by terror, who tortured his own soccer team for losing - Google it, who used WMD to wipe out entire unarmed villages, who spent millions to convince the world he was trying to build a nuclear bomb (it worked, we believed him), was removed. It was up to the various ethnic and religious groups in Iraq to then decide if they wanted to live as a peaceful democracy, or see who could grab power next. They so far have choosen the latter, and were rewarded with a fundalmentalist invasion. Perhaps they will learn now, perhaps not, it is up to them.
    Syria - as there is no UN or world consensus, we have done nothing but protest the gov't's treatment of it's own people, and provide humanitarian aid (delivered outside the country).
    Comments page of 3
        Next 

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.