The Russian move represents a significant escalation of the Kremlin’s involvement in the fighting there and comes as a convoy of Russian trucks with humanitarian provisions has crossed into Ukrainian territory without Kiev’s permission.
Since mid-August NATO has received multiple reports of the direct involvement of Russian forces, “including Russian airborne, air defense and special operations forces in Eastern Ukraine,” said Oana Lungescu, a spokeswoman for NATO.
“Russian artillery support — both cross-border and from within Ukraine — is being employed against the Ukrainian armed forces,” she added.
NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, criticized the Russian moves in a statement issued in Brussels on Friday.
“I condemn the entry of a Russian so-called humanitarian convoy into Ukrainian territory without the consent of the Ukrainian authorities and without any involvement of the International Committee of the Red Cross,” Mr. Rasmussen’s statement said.
“These developments are even more worrying as they coincide with a major escalation in Russian military involvement in Eastern Ukraine since mid-August, including the use of Russian forces,” the statement continued, adding: “We have also seen transfers of large quantities of advanced weapons, including tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery to separatist groups in Eastern Ukraine. Moreover, NATO is observing an alarming buildup of Russian ground and air forces in the vicinity of Ukraine.”
source: huffingtonpost.com By MICHAEL R. GORDON