Are Russian tanks in Ukraine already?

Russian President Vladimir Putin says peacekeeping forces are headed to newly-recognised separatist regions in the east of the country.

As the eyes of the international community fall on eastern Ukraine, images of heavy armour have prompted fears Russian tanks may already have crossed the border into the country's streets.

Shortly after recognising breakaway regions Donetsk and Luhansk, Vladimir Putin decided to send troops there in what he described as a peacekeeping role.

Announced on Monday evening, it was initially unclear when the forces would arrive.

On Tuesday morning, Health Secretary Sajid Javid told Sky News: "We have seen that he has recognised these breakaway eastern regions in Ukraine and from the reports we can already tell that he has sent in tanks and troops.

"From that you can conclude that the invasion of Ukraine has begun."

Reuters pictures appear to show military vehicles including tanks and armoured troop carriers in Makiivka, on the outskirts of Donetsk.

There is no visible insignia on the vehicles, although Reuters claims its reporters had not seen heavy armour of this description on the local streets in days prior to Mr Putin's announcement.

Watch: UK 'must prepare' for the consequences of Russia invasion into Ukraine.