Ukraine said Russian tanks had flattened a small border town and pro-Russian rebels had made fresh gains in its east, as EU leaders signaled on Saturday they would threaten more sanctions against Moscow over the crisis. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, attending an EU summit in Brussels, said he was hoping for a political solution, but warned that his country was on the brink of full-scale war. Russia has repeatedly dismissed accusations from Kiev and Western powers that it has sent soldiers into its neighbor, or supported pro-Russian rebels fighting a five-month-old separatist war in Ukraine’s east.
Ukraine alleged today that a huge convoy of up to 100 Russian tanks, armoured vehicles and rocket launchers had infiltrated its territory. If confirmed, the claim could destroy a new ‘roadmap’ to peace discussed by the two countries’ leaders and EU officials at a Minsk summit less than 24 hours earlier. The news comes as a column of Ukrainian tanks, trucks and heavy artillery was pictured massing near the town of Mariupol, close to where Pro-Moscow separatists began shelling today.
Russian forces in two armored columns captured a key southeastern coastal town near the Russian border Thursday after Ukrainian forces retreated in the face of superior firepower, a Ukrainian military spokesman said. The two Russian columns, including tanks and armored fighting vehicles, entered the town of Novoazovsk on the Sea of Azov after a battle in which Ukrainian army positions came under fire from Grad rockets launched from Russian territory, according to the spokesman, Col. Andriy Lysenko.