Ukraine: Nato to meet amid claims of Russian invasion
The Ukrainian government says its forces are now fighting Russian troops, not Russian-backed separatists
Emergency meetings have been called by Nato, the United Nations and the European Union after Kiev accused Moscow of a de facto invasion and Barack Obama said Russia was engineering the violence in Ukraine.
The US president said that fighting was not the result of an internal uprising, but of "deep Russian involvement", the BBC reports. President Poroshenko of Ukraine accused Russia of sending troops and armoured vehicles to fight in the southeast of his country.
The US national security council will meet at the White House and Nato and EU leaders will also discuss their options later today. An emergency session of the UN Security Council has been convened.
Russia denies that it has sent any troops to eastern Ukraine, but Nato said that satellite photographs released yesterday showed that Russian armoured vehicles and artillery had been moving across the border from Russia into Ukraine for up to a week, The Guardian reports.
Speaking at a news conference in Washington, Obama pointed the finger at Russia's role in a conflict that has killed more than 2,000 people. "There is no doubt that this is not a home-grown, indigenous uprising in eastern Ukraine," he said.
"The separatists are trained by Russia, they are armed by Russia, they are funded by Russia. Russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and the new images of Russian forces inside Ukraine make that plain for the world to see."
However, Obama repeated that there would be no American military response to the latest developments.
Ukraine's prime minister, Arseny Yatsenyuk, asked the EU and US to put a freeze on Russian assets. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said the EU would discuss its response to the accusations at a summit this weekend and hinted at the possibility of further sanctions.
The Ukrainian military confirmed that its soldiers had been forced to withdraw from Novoazovsk to defend the strategically important coastal town of Mariupol. Ukraine insisted that its forces are now fighting "Russian troops" rather than pro-Russian separatists along the country's southeastern coast.