UK & World News

  • 15 August 2014, 16:04

UK 'Very Alarmed By Russian Forces In Ukraine'

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is "very alarmed" at reports Russian military vehicles have crossed into Ukraine - and warned there could be "very serious consequences".

The vehicles, including armoured personnel carriers, crossed the border near the town of Donetsk on Thursday night, Kiev officials said.

This was later confirmed by Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who said it was a "clear demonstration of continued Russian involvement in the destabilisation of eastern Ukraine".

Mr Hammond, who has summoned the Russian ambassador to clarify the situation, said they should withdraw immediately.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross said it is still trying to verify that an aid convoy from Russia to Ukraine is carrying nothing more than humanitarian aid.

Ukrainian border guards are checking the cargo on Russian territory near the Ukrainian settlement of Izvaryne, held by separatists.

A dozen Russian armoured trucks are waiting with the aid lorries.

Ukraine is concerned the convoy of about 260 vehicles would be used as a 'Trojan horse', allowing Russia to establish a permanent presence in the east.

In an effort to ease tensions, Russian officials allowed journalists to see the contents of trucks.

Among the supplies journalists saw were bottles of water, sacks of buckwheat and portable generators.

Elsewhere, pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have suffered a dramatic setback after top military chiefs quit as Kiev's forces pummelled their strongholds.

The rebels said their main military chief, Igor Strelkov, had resigned and the commander in the second biggest insurgent stronghold of Luhansk, Valery Bolotov, also said he was "temporarily" stepping down because of injuries.

Ukraine's military said it had completely surrounded Luhansk, cutting all links to the border with Russia.

Kiev believes Russia has been supplying the insurgents with weapons and on Friday said military convoys were crossing the border "practically every day".

An estimated 2,000 people have so far died in the four-month conflict.

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