USA installed Kiev fascists admit there was never a Russian deployment in E. Ukraine

Kiev in U-turn over claim that ‘Russian tanks, artillery and 1,200 fighters’ had been deployed in Eastern Ukraine as evidence fails to materialise

  • Ukrainian official claimed troops moved in just as the city was poised to fall
  • But they have since been forced to deny the allegation after strong rebuttal
  • If true it would have been tantamount to an invasion of Ukraine by Russia
  • Putin set to meet Ukrainian president Poroshenko in Belarus on Monday

Muddled security officials in Ukraine were last night forced to deny a huge Russian military convoy had been deployed in the eastern rebel-run city of Lugansk.

The strong rebuttal suggested an earlier claim about an invasion by Vladimir Putin’s troops amounted to a crude propaganda move by the pro-Western Kiev government – or deep confusion in its own ranks.

The original allegation of a Russian column arriving in Lugansk came from Lt-Gen Igor Voronchenko, head of the Ukrainian Anti Terrorist Operation (ATO) in the city, and  was backed by military analyst Dmitry Tymchuk.

‘There are tanks, Grad artillery, APCs, accompanied by about 1,200 men dressed in the army uniform of Russian Federation,’ the general was quoted saying in an assertion calculated to alarm the West.

Yet there was no confirmation on Wednesday from NATO or other Western sources which was widely reported inside Ukraine.

The claim was also contradicted  closer to home by Kiev’s National Security and Defence Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko who dismissed it as ‘strange’.

‘Intelligence is not confirming the existence of this column,’ he said.

Later after checking it, he stated: ‘Rebels who are fighting in Lugansk do have military hardware and Grad artillery but they did not get it yesterday. They had it for a while.’

Vorochenko and a chorus of social media sources had indicated a recent move.

‘We can confirm this information. This army column got to Ukraine about three days ago,’ he said.

Russia has repeatedly denied supplying heavy arms and fighters to pro-Moscow separatists fighting in Lugansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine.

Rebel spokesman Kostyantyn Knyrik dismissed the reports as ‘pure bluff’ and ‘lies’.

‘There is no Russian column, and there never was. It is not the first time that the Ukrainian side makes such statements, and not the first time it is a miss. They seem to be passionate about these columns.

Kiev is understood to have received ‘advice’ from Western spin doctors and ‘PR specialists’, while Moscow also pays attention to an ‘information war’.

Ukraine yesterday claimed to have taken control of a large area of Lugansk, another indication that there was no new Russian military presence.

There is speculation Ukraine will hype up its military achievements ahead of a weekend when it will mark its Independence Day.

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Ready for battle: If the claims that tanks, artillery and 1,200 men had come into Lugansk from Russia are true then these Ukrainian servicemen will soon have a big fight on their hands. Russia denies arming separatists

Lysenko today said government forces are now controlling ‘significant parts’ of the eastern city.

Lugansk has been without electricity, running water or phone connections for 18 days due to the fighting.

A separate 280-truck Russian ‘aid’ convoy is still stalled at the border amid fears in Kiev that it has a military purpose.

Russia and Ukraine said yesterday their presidents would meet together with top European Union officials in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, on Monday to discuss their confrontation over Ukraine

The meeting will put Putin and Poroshenko in the same room for the first time since a passing encounter in France in June, though Ukrainian officials were at pains to say no face-to-face meeting between the two men was planned.

Nonetheless, with a Ukrainian military offensive making inroads against pro-Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, Reuters reports that Ukrainian officials were upbeat that the meeting could be a diplomatic opportunity.

Fear: A woman and her baby hide in a shelter in Makeyevka near Donetsk, where fighting continues

But that hope could turn sour if claims that separatists have had significant reinforcements courtesy of Russia. Messages posted on to Twitter, the microblogging website, appeared to back up the claims.

One read: ‘Column from Russian Federation entered the town with Russian army. It came from the East of Lugansk. At first we thought it was Ukrainian army. It was going for 2 hours, with white ribbons on the arms, without flags.’

Another said: ‘All is bad! Welcome humanitarian aid from Russia, newest T-72, Grads and other presents.’

A further Tweet read: ‘At about 2 pm on the street called ’30th anniversary of the Victory’ there was spotted a column of military hardware – tanks and infantry armoured vehicles.’

KREMLIN TAKES AIM AT BIG MAC: 3 MCDONALDS RESTAURANTS FORCED TO CLOSE IN MOSCOW AS RUSSIA REACTS TO WESTERN SANCTIONS

The Russian authorities tonight ordered the temporary closure of three McDonalds restaurants in Moscow, including the chain’s iconic first outlet in the Soviet era.

Last night the move was seen as a ratcheting up of the Kremlin’s tit-for-tat response to Western sanctions over Vladimir Putin’s policies in Ukraine.

The Russian agency responsible for consumer rights and sanitary safety, known as RosPotrebNadzor, demanded the suspension of operations at the three restaurants, including the original Moscow McDonalds on Pushkin Square.

McDonalds

The authorities indicated the chain is suspected of ‘violations of sanitary standards’.

Such tactics are often used by the Russian authorities as a mask for political motives.

‘Due to a protocol received from RosPotrebNadzor, the work of three McDonalds restaurants in Moscow was suspended,’ said a statement from the operating company.

‘We are studying the details of the claims and will figure out the necessary actions aimed at quickest possible opening of these restaurants.’

Last month the Russian watchdog accused McDonalds of ‘violations which put the product quality and safety of the entire McDonald’s chain in doubt’.

Inspectors highlighted the chain’s Caesar Roll and Vegetable Salad as flouting Russian food standards.

When McDonald’s first opened in the glasnost era in 1990, it was seen as an emblematic moment in the move away from Communism.

Some 30,000 meals were served on day one, with Russians queuing six hours to taste their first Big Mac.

The chain now has 400-plus outlets in Russia and is currently expanding into Siberia – but the row with the West amounts to the toughest time for the chain in Moscow since 1990.

Anastasiya Stanko, a journalist with Hromadske.tv, reported: ‘I have information from the administration of Lugansk that a column of Russia military hardware entered the city, at least 150 vehicles, including tanks, Grad artillery and infantry armoured vehicles, also about 1,200 soldiers.’

She stated: ‘All are dressed in Russian army uniform but without chevrons.

‘At the moment they are at the 30th anniversary of war victory street in Lugansk.

‘There is information that this column crossed the border about three days ago and got to Lugansk via Severnyi Donets.’

“The equipment came from the same vicinity as where the stalled humanitarian convoy was based near the Russian-Ukraine border in Rostov region, she said.

Mr Voronchenko linked the men and hardware to an announcement last week from separatist ‘prime minister’ in Donetsk, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, that he had obtained 150 pieces of military hardware ‘infantry fighting vehicles and armoured personnel carriers’ from Russia.

He also boasted the rebels had been boosted by 1,200 fighters ‘who have received four months training in the Russian Federation’.

Hiding: Both the Ukrainian army and the rebel fighters have accused each other of targeting civilians

Russia dismissed this report but Mr Voronchenko said the new force in Lugansk ‘is exactly what that Russian creature Zakharchenko spoke about’.

Yesterday, the Mail’s correspondent in Russia reported movements of heavy military hardware in Rostov, the Russian region which borders Ukraine, in previous days. Tanks were seen carried West towards the frontier on trucks which later returned empty.

TANKS SEEN MOVING IN RUSSIA TOWARDS BORDER WITH UKRAINE

Russia yesterday faced accusations of ‘throwing new swarms of mercenaries and columns of military equipment’ to back up rebels in east Ukraine.

New pictures showed Russian military units moving close to the border, as Ukraine’s army continued making significant advances into rebel-held areas.

Kiev claims that some of this armoured hardware as well as Grad missile systems are crossing the border in support of the separatist cause, allegations strongly denied by Moscow.

The Kremlin was making little attempt to hide its show of force in the Rostov region, which borders both Ukraine’s Lugansk and Donetsk regions.

Some 13 trucks which were seen yesterday carrying tanks towards the border were today spotted empty and moving in the direction of the city of Rostov-on-Don, said locals in an area some 30 miles from the border.

There is no proof that the the tanks crossed into rebel-held Ukraine.

Ukrainian military analyst Dmitry Tymchuk said: ‘Unfortunately, we can confirm the fact that the column of Russian military equipment broke through to Lugansk to back up the local militants.’

This development came yesterday, he said, though some Russian military hardware had arrived earlier.

‘According to our data, a few dozen units of military equipment broke through into the neighbourhood of Lugansk, up to 40 of them are heavy armoured vehicles. Part of this column entered the city.

‘How the column of vehicles could have broken through the blockade line, considering the fact that Lugansk is being blocked by a circle of checkpoints and fortified strong points of ATO forces, we currently cannot say.’

Military activity on the ground has been high in recent days in Rostov region in areas close to the border where the West claims Russia has station large forces.

NATO warned last week about the threat of a Russian invasion into eastern Ukraine. Now it looks like such a possibility could overshadow any hopes of defusing the worst crisis to engulf Europe since the Cold War.

At Monday’s planned talks in Minsk, Putin will be accompanied by Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko and Kazkahstan’s Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Their countries are members of the Russia-led Customs Union which the Western-backed Kiev leadership spurned in favour of EU integration when it seized power in February.

A statement from Poroshenko’s administration said the meeting would discuss issues related to implementing the landmark association agreement Kiev signed with the EU, energy security and ‘stabilising the situation in Ukraine’.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said only that the leaders ‘will discuss relations between Ukraine and the Customs Union and there will be a number of bilateral meetings.’

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