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Ukraine says troops entered rebel-held city

  • A Pro-Russian missile launcher drives in the town of Krasnodon, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. A column of several dozen heavy vehicles, including tanks and at least one rocket launcher, rolled through rebel-held territory on Sunday.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    A Pro-Russian missile launcher drives in the town of Krasnodon, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. A column of several dozen heavy vehicles, including tanks and at least one rocket launcher, rolled through rebel-held territory on Sunday.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • Pro-Russian rebels ride on a tank in the town of Krasnodon, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. A column of several dozen heavy vehicles, including tanks and at least one rocket launcher, rolling through rebel-held territory on Sunday.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    Pro-Russian rebels ride on a tank in the town of Krasnodon, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. A column of several dozen heavy vehicles, including tanks and at least one rocket launcher, rolling through rebel-held territory on Sunday.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • Friends and relatives say goodbye to volunteers before they were sent to the eastern part of Ukraine to join the ranks of special battalion "Azov" fighting against pro-Russian separatists, in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Ukraine's national security council said government forces captured a district police station in Luhansk after bitter clashes, but the government also reported Sunday that separatists have shot down a Ukrainian fighter plane in Luhansk region after army troops entered deep inside a rebel-controlled city in the east.  (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

    Friends and relatives say goodbye to volunteers before they were sent to the eastern part of Ukraine to join the ranks of special battalion "Azov" fighting against pro-Russian separatists, in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Ukraine's national security council said government forces captured a district police station in Luhansk after bitter clashes, but the government also reported Sunday that separatists have shot down a Ukrainian fighter plane in Luhansk region after army troops entered deep inside a rebel-controlled city in the east. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

  • Volunteers take an oath of allegiance to Ukraine, before being sent to the eastern part of Ukraine to join the ranks of special battalion "Azov" fighting against pro-Russian separatists,  in Kiev, Ukraine Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Ukraine's national security council said government forces captured a district police station in Luhansk after bitter clashes, but the government also reported Sunday that separatists have shot down a Ukrainian fighter plane in Luhansk region after army troops entered deep inside a rebel-controlled city in the east. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

    Volunteers take an oath of allegiance to Ukraine, before being sent to the eastern part of Ukraine to join the ranks of special battalion "Azov" fighting against pro-Russian separatists, in Kiev, Ukraine Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Ukraine's national security council said government forces captured a district police station in Luhansk after bitter clashes, but the government also reported Sunday that separatists have shot down a Ukrainian fighter plane in Luhansk region after army troops entered deep inside a rebel-controlled city in the east. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

  • Truck drivers speak with members of the media, as they wait alongside vehicles forming part of an aid convoy parked near the border control point in the Russian town of Donetsk, in the Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Fighting in Ukraine has escalated since the insurgency arose in April, with government troops steadily taking back rebel-held territory in the east. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

    Truck drivers speak with members of the media, as they wait alongside vehicles forming part of an aid convoy parked near the border control point in the Russian town of Donetsk, in the Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Fighting in Ukraine has escalated since the insurgency arose in April, with government troops steadily taking back rebel-held territory in the east. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

  • Trucks forming part of an aid convoy destined for Ukraine travel on a road to the border control point in the Russian town of Donetsk, in the Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Fighting in Ukraine has escalated since the insurgency arose in April, with government troops steadily taking back rebel-held territory in the east. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

    Trucks forming part of an aid convoy destined for Ukraine travel on a road to the border control point in the Russian town of Donetsk, in the Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Fighting in Ukraine has escalated since the insurgency arose in April, with government troops steadily taking back rebel-held territory in the east. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

  • Trucks painted white and forming part of an aid convoy are parked close to a border control point with Ukraine in the Russian town of Donetsk, in the Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Fighting in Ukraine has escalated since the insurgency arose in April, with government troops steadily taking back rebel-held territory in the east. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

    Trucks painted white and forming part of an aid convoy are parked close to a border control point with Ukraine in the Russian town of Donetsk, in the Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Fighting in Ukraine has escalated since the insurgency arose in April, with government troops steadily taking back rebel-held territory in the east. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

  • Pro-Russian rebels ride on an armored jeep in the town of Krasnodon, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. A column of several dozen heavy vehicles, including tanks and at least one rocket launcher, rolled through rebel-held territory on Sunday.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    Pro-Russian rebels ride on an armored jeep in the town of Krasnodon, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. A column of several dozen heavy vehicles, including tanks and at least one rocket launcher, rolled through rebel-held territory on Sunday.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • Pro-Russian rebel rides on an APC in the town of Krasnodon, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. A column of several dozen heavy vehicles, including tanks and at least one rocket launcher, rolled through rebel-held territory on Sunday.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    Pro-Russian rebel rides on an APC in the town of Krasnodon, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. A column of several dozen heavy vehicles, including tanks and at least one rocket launcher, rolled through rebel-held territory on Sunday.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • German Foreign Ministers Frank-Walter Steinmeier, left, talks to his French counterpart Laurent Fabius talk before a meeting with the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine and Russia at the Guesthouse of the Foreign Ministry Villa Borsig in Berlin, Sunday, August 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Steffi Loos)

    German Foreign Ministers Frank-Walter Steinmeier, left, talks to his French counterpart Laurent Fabius talk before a meeting with the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine and Russia at the Guesthouse of the Foreign Ministry Villa Borsig in Berlin, Sunday, August 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Steffi Loos)

  • Foreign Ministers of Russia Sergey Lavrov, Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, France Laurent Fabius and Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin, from left, go for a walk before a meeting at the Guesthouse of Foreign Ministry Villa Borsig in Berlin, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Steffi Loos)

    Foreign Ministers of Russia Sergey Lavrov, Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, France Laurent Fabius and Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin, from left, go for a walk before a meeting at the Guesthouse of Foreign Ministry Villa Borsig in Berlin, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Steffi Loos)

  • The Foreign Ministers of France Laurent Fabius, Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and Russia Sergey Lavrov, from left, go for a walk before a meeting at the Guesthouse of Foreign Ministry Villa Borsig in Berlin, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Steffi Loos)

    The Foreign Ministers of France Laurent Fabius, Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and Russia Sergey Lavrov, from left, go for a walk before a meeting at the Guesthouse of Foreign Ministry Villa Borsig in Berlin, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Steffi Loos)

  • A Pro-Russian missile launcher drives in the town of Krasnodon, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. A column of several dozen heavy vehicles, including tanks and at least one rocket launcher, rolled through rebel-held territory on Sunday.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
  • Pro-Russian rebels ride on a tank in the town of Krasnodon, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. A column of several dozen heavy vehicles, including tanks and at least one rocket launcher, rolling through rebel-held territory on Sunday.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
  • Friends and relatives say goodbye to volunteers before they were sent to the eastern part of Ukraine to join the ranks of special battalion "Azov" fighting against pro-Russian separatists, in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Ukraine's national security council said government forces captured a district police station in Luhansk after bitter clashes, but the government also reported Sunday that separatists have shot down a Ukrainian fighter plane in Luhansk region after army troops entered deep inside a rebel-controlled city in the east.  (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
  • Volunteers take an oath of allegiance to Ukraine, before being sent to the eastern part of Ukraine to join the ranks of special battalion "Azov" fighting against pro-Russian separatists,  in Kiev, Ukraine Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Ukraine's national security council said government forces captured a district police station in Luhansk after bitter clashes, but the government also reported Sunday that separatists have shot down a Ukrainian fighter plane in Luhansk region after army troops entered deep inside a rebel-controlled city in the east. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
  • Truck drivers speak with members of the media, as they wait alongside vehicles forming part of an aid convoy parked near the border control point in the Russian town of Donetsk, in the Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Fighting in Ukraine has escalated since the insurgency arose in April, with government troops steadily taking back rebel-held territory in the east. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
  • Trucks forming part of an aid convoy destined for Ukraine travel on a road to the border control point in the Russian town of Donetsk, in the Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Fighting in Ukraine has escalated since the insurgency arose in April, with government troops steadily taking back rebel-held territory in the east. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
  • Trucks painted white and forming part of an aid convoy are parked close to a border control point with Ukraine in the Russian town of Donetsk, in the Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Fighting in Ukraine has escalated since the insurgency arose in April, with government troops steadily taking back rebel-held territory in the east. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
  • Pro-Russian rebels ride on an armored jeep in the town of Krasnodon, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. A column of several dozen heavy vehicles, including tanks and at least one rocket launcher, rolled through rebel-held territory on Sunday.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
  • Pro-Russian rebel rides on an APC in the town of Krasnodon, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. A column of several dozen heavy vehicles, including tanks and at least one rocket launcher, rolled through rebel-held territory on Sunday.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
  • German Foreign Ministers Frank-Walter Steinmeier, left, talks to his French counterpart Laurent Fabius talk before a meeting with the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine and Russia at the Guesthouse of the Foreign Ministry Villa Borsig in Berlin, Sunday, August 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Steffi Loos)
  • Foreign Ministers of Russia Sergey Lavrov, Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, France Laurent Fabius and Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin, from left, go for a walk before a meeting at the Guesthouse of Foreign Ministry Villa Borsig in Berlin, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Steffi Loos)
  • The Foreign Ministers of France Laurent Fabius, Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and Russia Sergey Lavrov, from left, go for a walk before a meeting at the Guesthouse of Foreign Ministry Villa Borsig in Berlin, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Steffi Loos)

Army troops have penetrated deep inside a rebel-controlled city in eastern Ukraine in what could prove a breakthrough development in the four-month-long conflict, the Ukrainian government said yesterday.

However, the military acknowledged that another one of its fighter planes was shot down by the separatists, who have been bullish about their ability to continue the battle and have bragged about receiving support from Russia. An Associated Press reporter spotted a column of several dozen heavy vehicles, including tanks and at least one rocket launcher, rolling through rebel-held territory yesterday.

Talks in Berlin between the foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France aimed at finding a political solution to the conflict ended without any substantial result.

Ukraine’s national security council said government forces captured a district police station in Luhansk on Saturday after bitter clashes in the Velika Vergunka neighborhood.

Weeks of fighting have taken their toll on Luhansk, which city authorities say has reached the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe. The siege mounted by government forces has ground delivery of basic provisions to a halt and cut off power and running water.

Although rebel forces have regularly yielded territory in recent weeks, they have continued to show formidable fighting capabilities.

Ukrainian military spokesman Oleksiy Dmitrashkovsky said yesterday that the separatists shot down a Ukrainian fighter plane over the Luhansk region after it launched an attack on rebels. The pilot ejected and was taken to a secure place, he said. Another military spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, later said that the status of the pilot was still being clarified.

The column of armored vehicles was spotted southeast of Luhansk outside a town very close to the Russian border and was heading west, deeper into rebel-held territory. It was unclear whether the column had come from Russia. Among the armored vehicles was a Strela-10, a short-range surface-to-air missile system capable of hitting targets up to 11,500 feet.

The area is just across the border from where a large Russian aid convoy is poised to cross with supplies intended for Luhansk and other afflicted zones.

Part of the aid convoy headed to the frontier crossing yesterday, but the 16 white trucks then stopped. The convoy of nearly 270 vehicles has been marooned for days in a town near the border amid objections from Ukraine, which initially complained that the mission was not authorized by the International Committee for the Red Cross.

The Red Cross, which would have responsibility for distributing the aid, on Saturday said the main holdup was a lack of security guarantees from all sides in the conflict.

A large X-ray machine was brought to the Russian crossing point in the afternoon, and Paul Picard, the head of a border-monitoring mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said it would be used to inspect the cargo.

The fate of the Russian aid convoy was one of the topics discussed by the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France who met in Berlin late yesterday.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter-Steinmeier said after the five-hour meeting that “frank words” had been exchanged and he believed there had been progress “on some issues,” without elaborating. Before the talks he had expressed hope that the four countries’ top diplomats might find a way to revive the political process aimed at brokering a lasting cease-fire and credible controls at Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia.

Fighting, including frequent shelling, is also affecting Donetsk, Ukraine’s main rebel-held city. Ten civilians have been killed and eight wounded in the past 24 hours, city authorities reported yesterday.

The leader of the self-proclaimed separatist government in the Donetsk region, Alexander Zakharchenko, has boasted that his forces have been bolstered by 1,200 fighters who underwent training in Russia and were brought in at a “crucial moment.” In a video of his speech that was posted online over the weekend, he said the fighters have 150 armored vehicles, including 30 tanks, and have gathered near a “corridor” along the Russian border. Zakharchenko did not specify whether the armored vehicles had also come from Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, yesterday denied that Russia had supplied any armored vehicles to the separatists.

Lysenko, the military spokesman, said the government had information that separatists had received reinforcement from Russia, but added that there is evidence rebels are complaining about not receiving some of the equipment they have been promised.

Russia has consistently denied allegations that it is supporting the rebels with equipment or training. But Ukraine’s president on Friday said that Ukraine had destroyed a large number of military vehicles that had recently crossed from Russia.

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