VLADIMIR PUTIN is massing Russian tanks deep within Ukraine's borders, it emerged today, as the fierce war gripping the country looks set to enter its bloodiest phase yet.
By Nick Gutteridge
PUBLISHED: 17:54, Sat, Jul 4, 2015 | UPDATED: 18:16, Sat, Jul 4, 2015
Russian troops can be seen massing at a camp in Ukraine
Video shot from a drone unveiled a massive Russian military camp some 15 miles inside Ukraine, and just 10 miles from the front line where fierce fighting has taken place between Government forces and Moscow-backed rebels.
In the damning footage Russian T-72 tanks, construction equipment and tents can be seen massed together in a woodland clearing.
The pro-Kiev group Dnipro-1, which released the video, said it had conducted two fly-bys with the drone which showed that Russian military action in the area is growing by the day.
The first film, shot on May 20, shows tanks, petrol tank lorries, tents and about 70 soldiers at the site.
However by the time the drone flew past for a second time, on June 4, evidence of a "powerful war camp" complete with a command centre, roads and trenches was starting to emerge.
Scroll down for video.
Russian tanks can be seen massing in the woodland clearing
Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied sending tanks and troops into Russia
The footage was shot near the village of Solntsevo, just 10 miles from the scene of some of the fiercest fighting in a civil war which has ripped Ukraine apart.
It is accompanied by English subtitles describing what can be seen in the pictures.
The text reads: "Here we can see powerful command staff. There is a communication vehicle, the tent for planning operation, two tents for soldiers and dug-out shelters.
"For 15 days on this area, the enemy had built the powerful, aggressive war camp.
"All constructions are professionally built."
The footage emerged after top NATO commander, Air Force General Philip M. Breedlove, said that the border between Ukraine and Russia is “wide open” with a "constant flow" of Russian troops passing freely across it.
The general claimed that Moscow’s military action in the region is carefully orchestrated to keep pressure on Ukraine from aligning too closely with the West.
The camp even has a concrete square, on the left, where soldiers can carry out drills
Tensions between Kiev and the Russian-backed revels have heightened in recent weeks
Before and after: How the camp grew over the space of a few weeks
Moscow has always denied providing troops or arms to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, claiming that they are freedom fighters.
This week Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Ukraine's perceived failure to agree a peace deal with the rebels was "alarming" and urged Europe and America to pressure Kiev.
He said: "The situation is alarming because we're witnessing a tendency, if you will.
"Starting with a state coup, the current Kiev authorities have routinely demonstrated their inability to come to an agreement.
"Russia is deeply concerned by Kiev's inability or unwillingness to implement a requirement to agree with Donetsk and Lugansk on the ways of implementing local elections and involving representatives in work on the new constitution."
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's proposal to create a new constitution for the country has triggered a surge in tensions between the two sides, who have been fighting a bloody war since April 2014.
Kiev then announced that it would stop buying Russian natural gas after EU-mediated talks in Vienna broke down - prompting Moscow to halt all gas supplies to Ukraine on Wednesday.
The rebels further stoked the flames by announcing plans to hold local elections in October in a bid to create a new semi-autonomous state in Eastern Ukraine beholden to Russia.
The sprawling camp has a large command centre and roads
Here, Russian fuel trucks can be seen hidden in protected dugouts
The arrow on the right shows the camp and the one on the left the River Kalmius, near the frontline
Russian-backed separatists held a similar referendum in Crimea after Vladimir Putin annexed the Ukrainian peninsular territory last year.
They have since been accused of committing a number of war crimes, including shooting down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, which was downed by an air-to-surface missile above rebel territory in July last year.
The airliner, which was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, disintegrated in mid air with all 198 passengers and crew on board perishing.
Moscow-backed rebels were later accused of looting the site and of blocking international teams from retrieving the bodies and possessions of the victims. Almost a year later, the field where the tragedy occurred is still littered with loved ones' personal effects.
The war in Ukraine was sparked when pro-democracy campaigners in favour of closer integration with the EU toppled president Viktor Yanukovych, a known ally of Putin, and imposed their own government.
Since then Kiev and the West have repeatedly accused Moscow of backing the Russian-speaking rebels in the east of the country with weapons, money and troops.
More than 6,500 people have been killed in the fighting since April 2014, according to the United Nations.
Heavy digging equipment can be seen in the drone footage