The gains Ukrainian forces have made against Russian-backed separatist groups in eastern Ukraine were imperiled Wednesday when Russia sent several armed carriers across the Russia-Ukraine border, inaugurating a whole new front in the simmering fight.
Wednesday’s movement included five armored carriers and loads of weapons and artillery, the third such incusion of the week. Russia denied the troop movement, and western officials, who are trying to keep Russia at the peace table, were careful not to label it an invasion, though the phrase “stealth invasion” has been bandied about.
Russian forces in Novoazovsk fought Ukrainian military into a retreat Tuesday, and the worry is this new front will bedevil the Ukrainian military even more, distracting them from the fight against the separatists.
Separatist groups began agitating late spring after the annexation of Crimea, and were the likely culprits in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Since then Ukrainian forces have made steady gains against the groups, to the dismay of Moscow, which backs the groups against the Kiev government.
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