Ukraine crisis: Scores of tanks moved into eastern Ukraine from Russia last night as leaders 'fought over ceasefire terms'

The claims - if true - could present a major roadblock to ceasefire agreements hammered out last night

Almost 100 tanks and armoured vehicles rolled across the border from Russia last night as the Ukrainian leader and Russian president struggled to negotiate the terms of a ceasefire agreement.

Reports of around 50 tanks, 40 missile systems and 40 armoured vehicles crossing into eastern Ukraine emerged this morning, a Kiev spokesperson claimed.

The claims, if true, would present a massive block to the ceasefire only agreed this morning after tense negotiations between president Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko stretched over 16 hours.

"The enemy continues to strengthen its forces in the most dangerous areas, especially in north-east Luhansk region and in the direction of Debaltseve," spokesman Andriy Lysenko said in a daily briefing, Reuters reported.

Debaltseve, the scene of heavy fighting over the past few weeks, is a major transport hub in the east of the country.

It was one of the sticking points of the ceasefire agreement, with Mr Putin suggesting that the rebels felt as the town – currently held by Ukrainian forces – was surrounded, the soldiers should surrender.

"We were presented with various unacceptable conditions of withdrawal and surrender," Mr Poroshenko told reporters after the talks. "We did not agree to any ultimatums and stated firmly that the cease-fire that is announced is unconditional."

 

If the reports are true, they are a double-kick to the conditions discussed – and agreed – by the leaders.

One of the most important clauses will see all heavy weaponry, such as tanks and armoured vehicles, pulled back from the frontline of the fighting.

Although news of the ceasefire was greeted positively by European leaders, French president Francois Hollande who was also present at talks said the result was a “relief” for Europe, many remain sceptical.

The last ceasefire agreed by the two forces in September lasted only days before both sides attempted to continue advancing their territory.

Estimates places the number of casualties at 5,400 as the bloody civil war continues to rip across the country.

Additional reporting by Reuters

Comments