Mykhailo Lysenko, the deputy commander of the Ukrainian Donbas battalion, has claimed that Russian tanks and armored personal carriers have been fighting alongside separatist forces in East Ukraine calling it a “full scale invasion.” The claim comes as forces loyal to Kiev pulled out of towns in East Ukraine such as Novoazovsk and struggle to hold on in Donetsk. It remains to be seen whether Kiev’s forces were defeated by the separatists alone or Russian forces did actually help drive them out, in any case the setbacks are real.

US intelligence officials told CNN that Russia has up to 1,000 troops in East Ukraine with “heavy weapons.” US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, featured in the infamous recording with Victoria Nuland on overthrowing the previous elected government of Ukraine, said “Russian supplied tanks, armored vehicles, artillery and multiple rocket launchers have been insufficient to defeat Ukraine’s armed forces, so now an increasing number of Russian troops are intervening directly in the fighting on Ukrainian territory.” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki echoed that a “Russian-directed counteroffensive” is underway in Donetsk and Luhansk.

Pro-Moscow rebel forces in eastern Ukraine, backed by Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers, battled government forces on two fronts Thursday, a Ukrainian military official said.

The fighting was taking place southeast of Donetsk, and along the nation’s southern coast in the town of Novoazovsk, about 12 miles (20 km) from the Russian border, according to Mykhailo Lysenko, the deputy commander of the Ukrainian Donbas battalion. “This is a full-scale invasion,” Lysenko said, referring to the fighting in the south.

A full scale invasion? No. A full scale invasion would involve the 40,000 or so Russian troops and weapons on the border coming in and airstrikes all over Ukraine.

But if Russian forces have entered East Ukraine its a pretty blatant message that Moscow will simply not allow Kiev to take back that territory. In which case Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko is going to need to grant that territory autonomy or let it declare full independence to safeguard the rest of Ukraine. The other option may be an actual full scale war between NATO and Russia which won’t leave much of a country left to govern.

After supporting the coup against former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych the US/EU has tried to pressure Russia into accepting the outcome with sanctions and threats of more consequences should it support separatists movements. If reports of Russian forces entering East Ukraine are true, consider the bluff called. Russia cares more about Ukraine than the US or EU ever will.