KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Ukraine’s president rallied support Thursday for his plan to end fighting in the country’s east in phone calls with the Russian and German leaders, even as he condemned what Ukrainian officials called an incursion of armored vehicles from Russia.
The Ukrainian interior minister said three tanks crossed into Ukraine along with other armored vehicles from Russia and were attacked by military forces fighting pro-Moscow separatists. He did not directly accuse Moscow of sending the tanks, but said it showed Russia had failed to fulfill promises to tighten border controls.
Russia has denied sending troops or weapons to Ukraine, describing Russian citizens who have joined the armed separatists as volunteers. There was no independent confirmation that the tanks had come from Russia.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said if the military incursion was confirmed, it would be a “serious and disturbing escalation of the crisis in eastern Ukraine.”
The reported incursion followed statements earlier Thursday by Russia’s foreign minister that the separatists were ready for a cease-fire but that Kiev had to initiate the process.