President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia held inconclusive talks late Tuesday with the president of Ukraine, extending a reluctant hand to a new leadership vilified in Russia’s state-run news media as the fruit of a fascist putsch. Hours earlier, Ukraine released videos of captured Russian soldiers that directly challenged Mr. Putin’s longstanding claim that his country has nothing to do with the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
The videos, which featured men dressed in camouflage who identified themselves as members of a Russian airborne division who had been sent into Ukraine in unmarked vehicles, put new pressure on Mr. Putin to acknowledge and halt what Ukraine and its Western supporters say is an accelerating flow of military personnel and hardware into the country’s east.
Analysis by Western officials indicates that Russia is orchestrating a multipronged offensive against Ukrainian forces. Russian forces have been trying to help separatists in eastern Ukraine break the siege of Luhansk, one of the main rebel-held cities, and open a corridor to another, Donetsk, from the Russian border, Western officials say.