Poroshenko: Russian troops cross border into Ukraine

Petro Poroshenko announced earlier this morning that troops from Russia have been moved across the border, crossing into eastern Ukraine. He cancelled a planned visit to Turkey and a convocation of the national security council was called to devise a response. Ukraine is also formally requesting a meeting of the UNSC, as a leader of the main separatist group in southeastern Ukraine (Luhansk region) said that up to 4,000 Russians have been fighting against Ukrainian government forces.

There is no statement from the Russian government regarding any potential operations, and after months of denying any direct involvement, it is likely that this will trigger another meltdown in relations between Russia, the EU, and the United States. The European Commission is in the process of debating further punitive economic sanctions against Russia. Ukraine contends that Russian troops invaded farther south to open a second front to relieve pressure on Donetsk and Luhansk farther north, where separatist forces are besieged and encircled by the Ukrainian military.

Separatist leader Alexander Zakharchenko took over as prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic earlier this month, who had previously said that fighters trained in Russia were being transported into Ukraine to support separatist operations. As negotiations between the two parties (including representatives from Germany and the EU) are ongoing in Minsk, Belarus – Putin has stated that a solution in eastern Ukraine is “not our business, it is a domestic matter for Ukraine itself,” and that Russia’s role was to “support the creation of an environment of trust.” Earlier this week, nine Russian paratroopers were captured inside of Ukraine and government sources claimed they had been a part of a border patrol and entered Ukraine by accident.

Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian security council, has identified the town of Novoazovsk east of Crimea on the Sea of Azov, as the focal point of the new battle. The Sea of Azov would be the next strategically logical place to take control to support Crimea.

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