KIEV: The Ukrainian military on Sunday reported “intensive” movement of troops and equipment from Russia into the separatist controlled parts of eastern Ukraine.
“There is intensive deployment of military equipment and personnel of the enemy from the territory of the Russian Federation onto territory temporarily controlled by insurgents,” Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told a briefing in Kiev.
In Donetsk, the main rebel-held city in Ukraine’s industrial south-east, Agence France-Presse reporters saw about 20 trucks, some carrying anti-aircraft guns, heading toward the government-held airport, although it was not clear whether these were new forces.
Several Western news outlets reported witnessing heavy movement of troops near Donetsk.
Among them, reporters for the news sites buzzfeed.com and mashable.com tweeted that they had seen a large military column. Buzzfeed’s Max Seddon wrote: “31 unmarked Kamazes [military trucks]just drove past towards Donetsk. Anti-aircraft weapons, ammunition boxes, radar systems, a bus of gunmen.”
Mashable’s reporter Christopher Miller tweeted having seen more than 40 trucks headed toward Donetsk “with anti-aircraft guns, fighters.”
Video footage that appeared on YouTube and was rebroadcast on Ukraine’s Channel 5—but which could not be independently authenticated—showed a huge column of green trucks snaking slowly through an unidentified city.
Russia has repeatedly denied accusations from Kiev, Western governments and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance that it is fighting on the side of pro-Russian separatists who have taken over a swathe of Ukraine’s industrial southeast.
However, Moscow openly supports the two self-declared rebel statelets politically and said it would recognize the validity of elections being held there on Sunday.