News / Europe

    NATO: Photos Confirm Russian Tanks Near Ukraine

    NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen pauses as he answers reporters' questions following a meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels on Wednesday, June 4, 2014
    NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen pauses as he answers reporters' questions following a meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels on Wednesday, June 4, 2014
    NATO on Saturday released photos that it said showed recent Russian tank movements near the Ukrainian border, one day after the U.S. State Department asserted Russia had sent tanks and heavy weaponry to separatists in Ukraine.
     
    NATO releases satellite images showing eight tanks arriving at the staging area June 6, with 10 in the area by June 11, 3 of them on transports ready to move, June, 14, 2014.NATO releases satellite images showing eight tanks arriving at the staging area June 6, with 10 in the area by June 11, 3 of them on transports ready to move, June, 14, 2014.
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    NATO releases satellite images showing eight tanks arriving at the staging area June 6, with 10 in the area by June 11, 3 of them on transports ready to move, June, 14, 2014.
    NATO releases satellite images showing eight tanks arriving at the staging area June 6, with 10 in the area by June 11, 3 of them on transports ready to move, June, 14, 2014.
    The tanks in the NATO photos were seen on the Russian side of the border, but a NATO officer told VOA that they were likely the same ones that were shown moving within eastern Ukraine in video circulating on the Internet.

    "In the context of a counter-insurgency, tanks are significant," said the official said who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record. He called them a "psychologically significant platform," that could boost the morale of insurgents. 

    The official said the tanks are difficult to drive, meaning only someone who had training could operate them properly. That means it was unlikely that the separatists are driving them, he said.

    The officer told VOA that the convoy was part of a larger group of military vehicles assembled at a staging area near Rostov-on-Don, about 50 miles from the border with Ukraine. Among them were at least 10 T-64 battle tanks - a Russian model that originally was scheduled to be scrapped but has remained operational.

    Russia has about 2,000 functional T-64 tanks at its disposal, the officer said.

    Moscow has denied that it supplies or directs the separatist forces in Ukraine, and the rebels battling Ukrainian troops say they have acquired their weapons from government stockpiles.

    A day earlier, the U.S. State Department asserted Friday that Russia had in fact sent tanks and other heavy weapons to separatists. Photos and video circulating on the Internet showed as many as three tanks crossing the border near the Ukrainian town of Snizhne.

    State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said that a convoy of three T-64 tanks, several rocket launchers, and other military vehicles crossed the border in the last three days. She called the move "unacceptable."

    The Ukrainian Army said it had destroyed two of the tanks and several other vehicles in the convoy.

    NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Friday that if reports of "pro-Russian armed gangs" acquiring heavy weapons from Russia were confirmed, it would mark "a serious escalation" of the crisis in eastern Ukraine.

    Russia, which annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in March, has repeatedly said it would not make further intrusions into Ukrainian territory.

    Meanwhile, Ukraine's government said that its security forces regained control of Mariupol, a port city in the Donetsk region that has changed hands several times.

    Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Ukrainian forces raised the country's flag over city hall.  

    In another development, Russian forces began military exercises Thursday in the Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad. Moscow says the exercises are a response to ongoing NATO maneuvers in European NATO countries near its borders. 

    Kaliningrad is a tiny Russian territory wedged between NATO member-states Lithuania and Poland.

    In Moscow Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin marked one of Russia's main holidays, Russia Day, with praise for the annexation of Crimea.

    In an address, Putin said the peninsula and its strategic Black Sea port of Sevastopol have come back to their "homeland."  

    Western governments and the United Nations say Crimea has been occupied by Russian soldiers.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

    Jeff Seldin

    Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

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    Comments page of 2
     Previous    
    by: meanbill from: USA
    June 14, 2014 10:22 AM
    CRAZY isn't it? -- The US shouting here comes the Russians invasion, (they just sent (3) old antiquated outdated over (30) year old T-64 tanks), against the Ukraine military, that has about (3,000) of them? -- (It just has to be a joke of some kind?) --- (The whole world is laughing at the humor of this propaganda?) --- WHAT NEXT? --- Russian sending WW1 By-planes to Ukraine?
    In Response

    by: Popsiq from: Buganda
    June 14, 2014 6:11 PM
    Not as 'stupid' perhaps as one of the kids driving those three tanks. Don't they know they're out numbered? They're going to be starting down a lot more than one barrel.

    To-day 'Feld Mareschall' 'Turchy' warned them to 'get out' of those tanks - they're going to be destroyed from the air. Same as the Army unit a fortnight ago.
    In Response

    by: cygnusx1 from: U.S.
    June 14, 2014 4:23 PM
    You'd feel pretty stupid about this comment if you were staring down the barrel of one of these antiques. By the way, real people will be but I guess it's rather hard to fathom sitting in your comfy lazy boy recliner.

    by: tanghongbo1981 from: jiangsu province china
    June 14, 2014 9:28 AM
    Chinese people don't trust democracy which the west countries insist ,just thinking the Ukraine and Thailand ,please believing Chinese communist party ! they can give Chinese people peace surrounding!

    by: Jaycey from: Zaporozhzhye, Ukraine
    June 14, 2014 3:36 AM
    How many more Ukrainians must die before the world takes the blinkers off? 10,000, 100,000, 1,000,000 ?

    SHAMEFUL!

    by: Igor from: Russia
    June 14, 2014 2:38 AM
    Hey, The USA must stop barking arbitrarily following those in Kiev like a parrot. Such actions will do no good to the USA at all.
    In Response

    by: Frank from: Newark
    June 14, 2014 3:01 PM
    All the DRAFT DODGERS can go fight. Joe Biden, Dick Cheney, All the neocon-cowards. Every politician and news-pundit that calls for war .......... PUT them in the Front Lines of the war they want.

    by: VOV from: RUS
    June 14, 2014 1:44 AM
    Lord inhabit the territory of America, before we start talking about democracy, first return the territory to the indigenous population of North America... And answer for many of their own atrocities against the population of other States and remove from it . Dear you our fighters for justice...
    In Response

    by: cygnusx1 from: U.S.
    June 14, 2014 4:19 PM
    LOL. How about Russia repatriate the peoples of Eastern Europe and Southeastern/Central Asia to their original lands since you stole it and forcibly relocated them to populate Siberia which, by the way, was after you stole Siberia from the indigenous eastern Asians. Sound stupid? Spare me your hypocrisy.

    by: Chi Le from: USA
    June 14, 2014 12:37 AM
    What does Putin speak for his action? He annexed Crimea to protect Russian-speaking Ukrainians and Russian people who were living in Crimea. With the logic, I fear he will bring the tanks to the U.S. or any country to fulfill a similar action.
    In Response

    by: Tom Murphy from: West Virginia
    June 16, 2014 1:03 AM
    " I fear he will bring the tanks to the U.S. or any country to fulfill a similar action."

    Easier to say than to do it. Just how would he do that??



    by: gen from: japan
    June 13, 2014 11:55 PM
    Three tanks would be driven and moved by Russian thirsty emotion of democracy.
    In Response

    by: Larsen E Whipsnade
    June 15, 2014 2:22 AM
    Mr Nobody - Russia doesn't operate T64 tanks. The only operator in the world is Ukraine. The only T64 factory in the world is guess where? In Ukraine.
    In Response

    by: Mr nobody from: Amerika
    June 14, 2014 1:35 AM
    "thirsty emotion of democracy" ?

    Democracy is not a Russian emotion.

    Three tanks were just missing? If Russian intentions were to stay out of the Ukraine, the tanks would be burning hulks before they got near the border crossing.

    America doesn't just let a bunch of hooligans drive off a few tanks.

    If we cannot trust Russia with Tanks, guns, MANPADS, or treaties, then what can we trust them with?






    by: gen from: japan
    June 13, 2014 11:48 PM
    Only three tanks crossed the border.Is it true? But the drivers of tanks can't be Russian military men.It can't be only three tanks crossed.no military strategy.
    Maybe angry citizens would drive.maybe
    veterans.retired military men.
    The angry men against kiev.If Russian are angry,they lose temper and can't control their emotion. If so,I understand angry drivers of tanks.East region people now become refugees to run to Russia,more than 10,000 residets due to the attack by kiev.
    It is natural that everybody would be angry against prolonged operations.Everybody want kiev to stop the meaningless attack.
    In Response

    by: Evelyn Livingston from: Canada
    June 14, 2014 4:04 AM
    Gen..are you insane? People in the east are refugees because of insurgents sent from russia. Kyiv did not invade their own territory.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    June 13, 2014 10:43 AM
    TRUTH BE TOLD -- One victory in many more battles to come, won't win the war -- (BUT?) -- when winter comes, the Ukraine Right Sector government will either have won the war, (that's a laugh), or they'll suffer disaster or even defeat. -- (BECAUSE?) -- the logistics of the Right Sector fighting the Ukraine war in the winter, will be like Hitler's retreat from Russia, in bitter cold? -- Where the Ukraine Right Sector government has the advantage now, the pro-Russian separatists will have it in the winter... "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu?
    In Response

    by: Tom Murphy from: West Virginia
    June 13, 2014 11:52 PM
    meanbill:
    You failed to take note of the fact that the Ukrainian people are native to their region and are well acclimated to the winter weather. By contrast, Russian nationalists are unaccustomed to the new atmosphere of truth that's sweeping across Ukraine. They will be duped by Putin into putting their lives on the line for Putin's dream of re-creating the USSR from a group of unwilling nations. They will push and slog themselves through all of Putin's meaningless maneuvers until the last failed card is played. In the end. Putin will return frustrated to his winter palace and the Russian people will be forced to support him in his old age after each rigged election until he dies.
    In Response

    by: Mr nobody from: Amerika
    June 13, 2014 10:03 PM
    Do tell the truth or should I say Pravda?

    Right sector is just a small party. Ukraine won the election by having one.

    Why is Russia losing ground in Ukraine?

    Where is the bump from Sochi Olympics? All but forgotten.

    There are Nazis in the Ukraine and Russia. The GRU knows all of them. Why are they left alone?

    They are useful to them. The GRU likes Nazis.


    by: Humey Nwokolo Esq from: Nigeria
    June 13, 2014 8:48 AM
    I believe Crimea Peninsular will one day return to Ukraine also without bloodshed; Pranks of Putin notwithstanding.
    In Response

    by: Iain Yuile from: Canada
    June 14, 2014 4:31 PM
    One has to wonder just what planet Nwokolo and other blogs i've read are from. The Crimea voted nearly 90% to return to Russia. It was Russian in the first place before Communist government in Moscow gave it to Ukraine in the 1950's. And it isn't Putin who is pulling pranks, it's the E.U., NATO and USA.
    In Response

    by: Larry47460 from: Indiana, US
    June 14, 2014 2:45 PM
    Wow how quickly people forget the mountain of LIES that led to some of the last wars. Weapons of mass distraction in Iraq. How many MILLIONS must die for these parasite bankster pieces of trash before humanity wakes up to this B.S. Putin hasnt lied but our so-called president cant tell the truth about ANYthing here. Crimea had their OWN parliment and they voted to NOT be with the garbage that the US installed in Ukraine. GET OVER IT! Those that push war should be given a rifle and a parachute and flown in. Have at it you cowardly filth!
    Comments page of 2
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