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Russia 'directly involved' in Ukraine fighting, widens assault

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says Russian forces are now openly fighting with the separatists in eastern Ukraine.
By Gabrielle Levy Follow @gabbilevy Contact the Author   |   Aug. 28, 2014 at 7:56 AM
| License Photo
KIEV, Ukraine, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Russian forces have seized the coastal town of Novoazovsk and several villages near the border in Ukraine, and are now openly involved in the fighting, Kiev said Thursday.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called on the United Nations to convene an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council and the European Council to address was he said was a Russian invasion.

"The introduction of Russian forces into Ukraine has taken place," Poroshenko said in a televised statement from Kiev. "The world needs to pay attention to the sharply worsening situation in Ukraine."

The American Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt said "Russian supplied tanks, amored vehicles, artillery and multiple rocket launchers have been insufficient to defeat Ukraine' armed forces," so it was stepping up its involvement.

"Now an increasing number of Russian troops are intervening directly in fighting on Ukrainian territory," Pyatt said in tweets. "Russia has also sent its newest air defense systems including the SA-22 into eastern Ukraine & is now directly involved in the fighting."

The accusations out of Kiev come just hours after the first direct talks between Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin, which failed to result in any solid steps forward for the two countries.

Ukraine says a convoy of as many as 100 tanks, armored vehicles and rocket launchers was traveling toward Telmanove, about 80 km (50 miles) south of the rebel-held city of Donesk, just 20 km (12 miles) from the Russian border.

Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations it was directly aiding separatists in Eastern Ukraine, but that it was sending aid convoys. Tuesday, the Kremlin had to excuse the capture of Russian troops in Ukraine, saying they had crossed the border "by accident."

But separatist leader Alexander Zakharchencko, the prime minister in the self-declared Donetsk Peoples' Republic, acknowledged the presence of Russians among his fighters.

"There is no secret that among the volunteers from Russia there are many military men" Zakharchenko said in an interview on Russian television. "They are fighting together with us because they understand that it's their duty."

"Among us are active military who prefer spend their summer holidays not at the seaside," Zakharchenko said, "but among their brothers who are fighting for the freedom of Donbass."

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