Another day, another crisis the current administration must contend with:
Ukrainian artillery destroyed a "significant" part of a Russian armoured column that crossed into Ukraine during the night, President Petro Poroshenko told British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday, according to the presidential website.
Separately, a Ukrainian military spokesman said Ukrainian forces had tracked the Russian armoured column as soon as it crossed onto Ukrainian soil.
"Appropriate actions were undertaken and a part of it no longer exists," military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told journalists.
Poroshenko's website said he and Cameron had discussed the situation by telephone following British news reports that a Russian armoured column had entered Ukrainian territory.
"The president said that this information was reliable and confirmed because a significant part of this equipment had been destroyed in the night by Ukrainian artillery," it said.
This, of course, is Ukraine’s interpretation of events. Russia, on the other hand, denied that a dispute of any kind even happened along the border:
The Kremlin denied Friday that there had been a border incursion.
In fact, Russia described the allegations as “some kind of fantasy.” And yet:
Nato said there had been a Russian incursion into Ukraine, which is not a member of the Western mutual defence pact, but it avoiding calling it an invasion. Other European capitals accused the Kremlin of escalating a conflict that has revived Cold War-era animosities and chilled the region's struggling economies.
And as the New York Times reported:
The trucks were in a border zone close to several military bases, where columns of armored military vehicles driving in the direction of the Ukrainian border are a common sight. Two Western journalists reported seeing 23 armored vehicles crossing a border post into Ukraine on Thursday evening.
Ukraine and the United States have accused Russia of covertly arming pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Russian news agencies quoted an unidentified spokesman for the border guard service as saying that the service, run by the F.S.B. — the successor agency to the K.G.B. — had deployed more mobile teams near the border. The spokesman said this was a response to increased infiltration by Ukrainian servicemen into Russia and more frequent shelling across the border. He denied that any vehicles had crossed the border, calling such reports “completely untrue.”
Sergey Karavaytsev of Russia’s Ministry for Emergency Situations denied that the trucks in the convoy were from the military and said they were hired through private businesses. Masked guards who said they were military police officers also appeared at the camp site late Thursday evening. Members of the Red Cross were also at the convoy’s field camp on Friday, Mr. Karavaytsev said.
Despite eye-witness testimony, and Nato's assessment, Russia, it seems, continues to strenuously deny any wrongdoing. Still, in case you were wondering why any of this even matters, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia explains:
If Ukrainian forces did indeed destroy regular Russian military forces in Eastern Ukraine, then this war has escalated in a major way.— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) August 15, 2014
Remember how the Russian-Georgian war started in August 2008 -- a Kremlin "response" to an attack on Russian soldiers in South Ossetia.— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) August 15, 2014
Stay tuned for updates.