Ukraine accused Russia of a new military incursion into its territory a day after talks between both countries' presidents failed to mark a breakthrough in bringing the five-month crisis to an end.
Ukraine said Wednesday a group of Russian servicemen "on a special mission" had crossed into Ukrainian territory and entered the town of Amvrosiyivka, close to where 10 Russian soldiers were detained on Monday, Reuters reported.
Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said the soldiers were in armored infantry carriers and a truck.
The Russian defense ministry did not respond to allegations of the incursion. For the first time, however, sources in the defense ministry admitted that Russian soldiers on border patrol were in Ukraine but said they had crossed over into Ukrainian territory "by accident," The Guardian reported.
The U.S. State Department said Wednesday that a Russian counteroffensive was "likely underway," the Associated Press reported.
State Dept. spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Russia sent additional columns of tanks and armored vehicles into Ukrainian territory and that a "Russian-directed counteroffensive is likely underway" in the eastern cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Psaki accused Russia of being dishonest to its own people by sending Russian forces into Ukraine without informing them or their parents about its actions.
On Tuesday, Russian president Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko met for the first time since June to discuss the conflict that has claimed more than 2,000 lives.
The two presidents met in Minsk to talk privately as well as with EU representatives. However, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said it was hard to tell if the talks marked a breakthrough.
From The Guardian:
Ukrainian president Poroshenko claimed that all the heads of state present at the talks, including Putin, had signed up to supporting his "peace plan", and also said that there was agreement that Ukrainian and Russian border guard services would meet soon to discuss the situation on the border.
Putin, however, said the discussions were "first and foremost [about] economic cooperation" and claimed that all talks about resolving the conflict should be between Kiev and representatives of the eastern regions.