The battles between Ukraine forces and Russian-backed rebels were one thing: you could make a case for it being a “local” issue if you didn’t want to draw attention to it (for fear the Russians might cut off your natural gas supply). It’s quite a different thing when the Ukrainians are fighting Russian soldiers rather than irregulars and paramilitaries:
Russian forces in two armored columns captured a key southeastern coastal town near the Russian border Thursday after Ukrainian forces retreated in the face of superior firepower, a Ukrainian military spokesman said.
The two Russian columns, including tanks and armored fighting vehicles, entered the town of Novoazovsk on the Sea of Azov after a battle in which Ukrainian army positions came under fire from Grad rockets launched from Russian territory, according to the spokesman, Col. Andriy Lysenko.
“Our border servicemen and guardsmen retreated as they did not have heavy equipment,” Lysenko said in a statement.
Ukrainian authorities have denounced the latest fighting as a Russian invasion of their territory, intended to prop up pro-Moscow separatists who have been losing ground to Ukrainian forces and to open a new front in the southeastern corner of Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials said earlier that Ukrainian troops were battling combined Russian and separatist forces on the new southern front around Novoazovsk, about eight miles west of the Russian border. The Ukrainian military also said Russian troops were increasing surveillance from northern Crimea, the autonomous Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Moscow in March.
Among western countries, Canada (of all places) has become snarky about the situation:
— Canada at NATO (@CanadaNATO) August 27, 2014