UK & World News

  • 21 August 2014, 17:36

Ukraine 'Captures Russian Armoured Vehicles'

Ukrainian forces have seized two Russian armoured vehicles from an elite army paratrooper unit fighting in the east of the country, officials said.

The claim came as Ukrainian border guards began checks on a Russian aid convoy carrying humanitarian relief for eastern cities where residents have run short on supplies during ongoing battles between government forces and pro-Russian separatists.

Security spokesman Andriy Lysenko told a news briefing: "Ukrainian soldiers captured two armoured vehicles of Russia's Pskov Airbourne division in a battle near Luhansk.

"One of the vehicles had a full set of documents, from driver's licences to military documents," he said, adding that the vehicles had been abandoned by their drivers.

Ukrainian journalist Roman Bochkala, who is with the Ukraine army in the Luhansk region, published pictures on his Facebook page claiming to show a vehicle with its plates scratched out and various items apparently found inside, including a Russian passport.

A social networking page of a 20-year-old Russian with the same name and date of birth as that on the passport shows him posing in a typical Russian paratrooper uniform. The page was last updated in July.

Russia immediately rejected allegations that it had sent vehicles into Ukraine.

"Among the daily 'exposure' of Russian presence in Ukraine this is the 1001st such piece of 'evidence'," military spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Russian state agency Itar-Tass.

He said that Ukraine's army has the same equipment and the documents allegedly found inside had been stolen.

Kiev has repeatedly accused Russia of sending weapons and soldiers into eastern Ukraine to aid the rebels as it mounts an offensive to surround Donetsk and Luhansk and cut off the area from the Russian border.

Nato has said Russia is engaging in "hybrid warfare" and sending "secret commandos" across the border using the 76th Chernigov airborne assault division based in Pskov, a city in western Russia close to the borders with Estonia and Latvia.

The aid convoy is expected to head to Luhansk once it is allowed to pass across the border, but its 200 trucks are expected to be thoroughly searched as Ukraine has suggested it could be a "Trojan horse" to to supply the separatists. 

"The processing of Russian humanitarian aid has begun," senior border service official Sergiy Astakhov said.

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