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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

US: Russia Sends Tanks to Rebels in Ukraine

by VOA News June 13, 2014

The U.S. State Department has confirmed that Russia has sent tanks and other heavy weapons to separatists in Ukraine.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Friday that a convoy of three T-64 tanks, several rocket launchers, and other military vehicles crossed the border near the Ukrainian town of Snizhne in the last three days. She called the move 'unacceptable.'

Earlier in the day, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that if reports of 'pro-Russian armed gangs' acquiring heavy weapons from Russia were confirmed, it would mark 'a serious escalation' of the crisis in eastern Ukraine.

Russia, which annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in March, has repeatedly said it would not make further intrusions into Ukrainian territory.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's government said that its security forces regained control of Mariupol, a port city in the Donetsk region that has changed hands several times.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Ukrainian forces raised the country's flag over city hall.

In another development, Russian forces began military exercises Thursday in the Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad. Moscow says the exercises are a response to ongoing NATO maneuvers in European NATO countries near its borders. Kaliningrad is a tiny Russian territory wedged between NATO member-states Lithuania and Poland.

In Moscow Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin marked one of Russia's main holidays, Russia Day, with praise for the annexation of Crimea. In an address, Mr. Putin said the peninsula and its strategic Black Sea port of Sevastopol have come back to their 'homeland.'

Western governments and the United Nations say Crimea has been occupied by Russian soldiers.

Russia, which annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in March, has repeatedly said it would not make further intrusions into Ukrainian territory.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.



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