MOSCOW, Aug. 15 (UPI) -- Russia refuted the Ukrainian government's assertion that Ukrainian forces partially destroyed a Russian military convoy after it illegally crossed into Ukraine late Thursday.
Russian Ministry of Defense spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Friday that no such convoy exists.
"This is no Russian military convoy that allegedly crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border at night or in the daytime."
Russia's denial contradicts eyewitness accounts that a Russian military convoy of 23 armored personnel carriers, fuel trucks and unspecified logistics vehicles with Russian military license plates illegally crossed into Ukraine under cover of darkness.
Earlier Friday, Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council announced that "a part of the column does not exist now" and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko discussed the situation with British Prime Minister David Cameron during a phone call on Friday, telling Cameron that the Ukrainian military had destroyed the Russian vehicles.
Maintaining that no Russian military was involved in the alleged incursion, Konashenkov joked that "The best of all would be if the Ukrainian artillery destroyed a phantom rather than refugees or its own servicemen."
NATO has repeatedly warned Russia against continued provocations toward Ukraine. During a visit earlier this month to Kiev, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen conveyed NATO's "unwavering" support for Ukraine.
"NATO's support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine is unwavering. Our partnership is long-standing. It's strong, and in response to Russia's aggression, NATO is working even more closely with Ukraine to reform its armed forces and defense institutions."