Ukrainian forces say they “destroyed” part of what President Petro Poroshenko called a Russian military column late Thursday night, around when a Russian humanitarian aid mission crossed the border. Ukraine has yet to confirm what type of equipment was destroyed, but said its artillery destroyed “much of it” overnight.
Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the National Security and Defense Council in Kiev, said the Ukrainians had been tracking the column and that “appropriate active actions were made and a part of the column does not exist now.”
That claim is supported by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who said Russian military elements crossed the border Thursday night.
â€” MFA of Ukraine (@MFA_Ukraine) August 15, 2014
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The Russian Defense Ministry, however, denied the story, calling the Ukrainian claims “based on fantasies and assumptions” and “not worth discussing,” according to state-run outlet RIA Novosti. Russia’s internal Federal Security Service, the FSB, said while there were border guard units nearby to ensure the safety of the humanitarian convoy, no Russian military vehicles crossed the border.
No Russian armored column has crossed into Ukrainian territory - Russian Defense Ministry
â€” RIA Novosti (@ria_novosti) August 15, 2014
The column in question appears to be a part of a military detachment that accompanied a Russian aid mission of more than 280 tractor-trailers full of humanitarian supplies at least to the edge of a separatist-held border crossing. Reporters tweeted photos Thursday night of Russian armored personnel carriers with the aid convoy driving toward the border. The Guardian's Shaun Walker said a group of 23 APCs crossed into Ukrainian territory on a dirt road and through a hole in a fence that demarcates the frontier.
Roland Oliphant of the Telegraph concurred:
Massive column of APCs flying Russian flags and some with мc - peace keeper - driving past aid convoy and barrelling it toward Donetsk
â€” Roland Oliphant (@RolandOliphant) August 15, 2014
Ukraine, NATO and Russia have yet to release any photographic evidence to refute or support the claims. The European Union Foreign Affairs Council announced Friday it would consider any unilateral action by Russia in Ukraine, including those humanitarian in nature, as "a blatant violation of international law."