Russian tanks roll into Ukraine

Russian tanks roll into Ukraine

Ukraine’s military accused Russia on Friday of sending a column of 32 tanks and truckloads of troops into the country’s east to support pro-Russian separatists fighting government forces.

Thursday’s cross-border incursion, if confirmed, is a significant escalation of a conflict that has killed more than 4,000 people since the separatists rose up in mid-April and would call into question Russia’s commitment to a two-month-old ceasefire deal. …

“Supplies of military equipment and enemy fighters from the Russian Federation are continuing,” military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told a briefing in Kiev, describing a column that included 16 big artillery guns and 30 trucks carrying troops and ammunition as well as 32 tanks.

He said five Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in the past 24 hours although Kiev has denied rebel charges of launching a new military offensive. …

The increase in tensions stems from Sunday’s leadership elections in the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics”, which the West and Kiev say violated the Minsk agreements.

The Ukrainian government responded by revoking a law that would have granted the rebel-held eastern regions much more autonomy and would have provided them with cash.

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