Armoured column seen in south Russia near Ukraine

Krasnodarovka - A Reuters reporter saw on Thursday a column of armoured vehicles and dust-covered troops, one of them with an injured face, driving through the Russian steppe just across the border from a part of Ukraine which Kiev says is occupied by Russian troops.

None of the men or vehicles had standard military identification marks, but the reporter saw a Mi-8 helicopter with a red star insignia - consistent with Russian military markings - land next to a nearby military first aid tent.

Asked if he was with the Russian military, a man in camouflage fatigues without any identifying insignia who was in the area of the tent, said only: "We are patriots."

The column of armoured vehicles was driving east away from the Ukrainian border across open countryside near the village of Krasnodarovka in Russia's Rostov region.

The location is about 3km from the Ukraine-Russia border and 30km from the Ukrainian town of Starobesheve, which Kiev says Russian forces have occupied in support of pro-Moscow separatist rebels after crossing over the border.

The column was made up of two armoured personnel carriers, six military trucks and one military excavator. The troops, riding on top of the armoured personnel carriers, had dirty faces and one had a bandage on his face.

One of the trucks had a smashed windscreen and smashed headlights and was being towed by a second truck. All the vehicles were marked with white circles.

On the road leading towards Krasnodarovka, there were more trucks with the same white circles, some heading towards the border with Ukraine and some away from it.

Many of the men in camouflage fatigues seen by Reuters on the Russian side of the border had white material wrapped around their arms or legs. That matches the appearance of unidentified armed men Ukrainian residents of the area around Starobesheve have reported seeing in the past 48 hours.

'One of us'

A man in camouflage fatigues at a camp where the first aid tent was located, when asked about the significance of the white fabric, told Reuters: "It means it's okay, you're one of us."

Another man, also with white fabric attached to his uniform, told Reuters he was from the Russian city of Ivanovo, about 1 400km to the north. Ivanovo is home to the Russian military's 98th Guards Airborne Division.

All the uniformed men Reuters spoke to declined to say whether or not they were in the Russian military.

After a short while, Russian border troops arrived and took the Reuters reporter to a village further from the border, saying she did not have permission to be in a border zone. They deleted photographs of the military vehicles and personnel from the reporter's mobile phone.

Russia denies its troops have entered eastern Ukraine or that it is sending military hardware into Ukraine to help the separatist rebellion there.

Ukraine's security and defence council said on Thursday the border town of Novoazovsk and other areas further south from Starobesheve had fallen under control of Russian forces who it accused of joining the rebels in a counter-offensive.

"Russian troops have actually been brought into Ukraine," President Petro Poroshenko said in a statement.

Read more on: russia ukraine
Mambo Jambo 2014/08/28 06:22:58 PM
Let the nuclear war games begins nato vs russia and china,may westerner burn in hell with their own military technology.
Mavhungu Vincent 2014/08/28 06:34:12 PM
news24 all the time you source your news from other media company why cant you go yourself and stop lying to us.
Siya 2014/08/28 06:41:44 PM
If this is true, they should implement it at an anonymous scale. If talk fail to bring a ceasefire, kicking the aggressor is the only solution.
Honeya Badger 2014/08/28 06:43:31 PM
A reuters' reporter, what do you expect belongs in the same media cesspool as the daily mail, the guardian and the rest of that lot.
VoxPopuli 2014/08/28 06:57:58 PM
All BS! Earlier in the day it was reported ukraine army is fleeing. Those lunatics in Kiev needs help and hoping some fiction would draw NATO assistance
Lerato Marule 2014/08/28 07:25:36 PM
Why she did not post these pictures on tweeter ?
Henderson 2014/08/28 07:50:39 PM
Does that meam France is allowed to arm rebels in Syria and Russia must not lets see what will the west do
Heinrich Badenhorst 2014/08/29 07:36:55 AM
Thanks Putin for world war 3. Just thougt we would be o.k. after the warmongering of the Bush era ended. Sad part is thousands will die for Putin's ego. There was a clear diplomatic victory if he chose to speak to the new Ukranian government, because east ukraine is mostly russian. They could have voted in 2015 after a decent democratic campaign an most likely would become part of russia. They should exile these warmongers to some special Island in the middle of nowhere. It could maybe be good reality tv. All of us will be affected, as the world economy has just started to recover. And now this stupidity- do we really need another European war.
Mufunwaini Tshifhiwa Bruce 2014/08/29 09:05:23 AM
being a south african and living in the east of ukraine and married to ukrainian i think i have a voice concerning what is happening in ukraine 1. Putin and his cronies are bullies and do not care about russians and ukrainains but care about their personal wealthy in gazprom and for that they are ready to kill 2.