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article imageRussian troops cross border into Ukraine to aid rebel fighters

By Nathan Salant     Aug 28, 2014 in World
Kiev - As many as 1,000 Russian soldiers in tanks and armored personnel carriers swept into southern Ukraine on Thursday in what a top Kiev official called a "full-scale invasion" in support of anti-government rebels.
Ukrainian army troops were battling Russian and pro-Moscow rebel forces near rebel-held Donetsk and the government-controlled town of Novoazovsk some 12 miles from the border, according to Cable News Network (CNN).
"This is a full-scale invasion," a Ukrainian military commander, Mykhailo Lysenko, told CNN.
NATO officials acknowledged that Russian troops were fighting alongside rebel forces in southern Ukraine and provided satellite images of their operations, CNN said.
"The images, captured in late August, depict Russian self-propelled artillery units moving in a convoy through the Ukrainian countryside and then preparing for action by establishing firing positions in the area of Krasnodon, Ukraine," NATO said in a written statement.
A British analysis of commercial satellite imagery shows 15 heavy trucks, seven armored vehicles and nine pieces of Russian Federation artillery inside Ukraine, CNN said.
Ukraine and Russia were members of the former Soviet Union from 1922 to 1991.
The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, told CNN on Thursday that Russian soldiers were directly involved in the fighting.
"Russian-supplied tanks, armored vehicles, artillery and multiple rocket launchers have been insufficient to defeat Ukraine's armed forces, so now an increasing number of Russian troops are intervening directly in the fighting on Ukrainian territory," Pyatt said in a post on Twitter.
"Russia has also sent its newest air defense systems including the SA-22 into eastern Ukraine and is now directly involved in the fighting," Pyatt said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron called on Russia to "cease immediately" its military operations across the border, CNN said.
"I'm extremely concerned by mounting evidence that Russian troops have made large-scale incursions into South Eastern Ukraine, completely disregarding the sovereignty of a neighbor," Cameron said.
"The international community has already warned Russia that such provocative actions would be completely unacceptable and illegal," he said.
NATO and the United States already have imposed travel and business sanctions against members of Russian President Vladimir Putin's government in Moscow after the takeover of Crimea in March, and have threatened to increase such penalties if hostilities worsen.
But Russia has denied helping the rebels and denies sending troops into Ukraine since the takeover of Crimea.
Pro-Moscow separatists in Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions declared independence after the Crimea takeover and have been battling government forces ever since.
Ukraine's National Defense and Security Council said Wednesday afternoon that Russian forces had taken full control of Novoazovsk.
"Ukrainian troops were ordered to pull out to save their lives," the NDSC said in a written statement.
"Ukraine is now fortifying nearby Mariupol to the west," the statement said.
Villages in the Novoazovsk, Starobeshiv and Amvrosiiv districts also were seized, CNN said.
Novoazovsk has strategic importance because it lies on the main road from the Russian border to the Crimea region.
Lithuania and Ukraine have requested an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to consider any international responses to the situation, CNN said.
More about Ukraine, Russian federation, Invasion, Kiev, Donetsk
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