KAMENSK-SHAKHTINSKY, Russia — Russian military vehicles crossed into Ukraine during the night, NATO said today, and the Ukrainian president declared that most of them were quickly destroyed by his troops.
The reported Russian incursion, which Moscow stoutly denied, came amid a week of drama over a Russian humanitarian aid mission for people in eastern Ukraine caught in the crossfire of fighting between government troops and pro-Russian separatists.
A statement on President Petro Poroshenko’s website said he and British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke Friday by telephone about the reports from Western journalists that Russian APCs were seen crossing into Ukraine near the point where over 200 vehicles in the Russian aid convoy were parked.
“The president said that the given information was trustworthy and confirmed because the majority of the vehicles were destroyed by Ukrainian artillery at night,” Poroshenko said in a statement. He gave no proof for his comments.
In Moscow, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry denied the reports that Ukraine had destroyed Russian military vehicles.
Russian news wires quoted Gen. Maj. Igor Konashenkov as saying that no Russian military convoy had crossed the border as Ukraine claimed. Earlier, Russia said Russian forces were patrolling the border region.
However, NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen confirmed that the alliance had observed a Russian “incursion” into Ukraine.
“What we have seen last night is the continuation of what we have seen for some time,” he said during a visit to Copenhagen.