Sparking immediate worries that violence could once again spike in Ukraine, the Kiev government’s military claimed Friday that a convoy of Russian tanks, artillery units, and other vehicles crossed the country’s eastern border.
According to Andriy Lysenko, a spokeperson for the Kiev army, a column of 32 tanks, 16 howitzer artillery systems, and trucks carrying ammunition and fighters has crossed into eastern Ukraine from Russia.
“The deployment continues of military equipment and Russian mercenaries to the front lines,” Lysenko said in a televised briefing in which he said the crossing occurred on Thursday.
Lysenko “provided no specific evidence or timetable, and it wasn’t immediately clear how his agency had obtained the information since parts of Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia have been under rebel control since August.” Despite the lack of evidence, the nature of the claim—coupled with recent fighting in the eastern regions—has sparked real worries that a peace deal reached in September may be eroding faster or more completely than previously thought.
As Reuters reports:
The report of a new Russian movement of armor across the border follows a charge on Thursday by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine that Kiev government forces had launched a new offensive – which Kiev immediately denied.