UKRAINE DECRIES INVASION AS RUSSIAN CONVOY ENTERS

Radio Free Europe on August 22, 2014, reported that Ukraine accused Moscow of an invasion after a Russian aid convoy crossed its eastern border without permission. Excerpts below:

But Kyiv said it would allow the trucks safe passage in order to avoid escalation of ongoing conflict.

Some 145 Russian trucks from a group nearly twice that size that had been parked near the border for a week crossed into Ukraine on August 22, after Moscow accused Kyiv of deliberately causing delays.

Ukraine has voiced concerns the convoy could supply pro-Russian rebels for their fight against government forces struggling to regain control of the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, or place the trucks strategically to hamper Ukrainian forces’ efforts.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called the convoy’s entry a “flagrant violation of international law.” In comments on the presidential website, he said more than 100 trucks had crossed the border without checks by Ukrainian customs or border guards and unaccompanied by International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) officials.

Ukrainian Deputy UN Ambassador Oleksandr Pavlichenko said that Ukrainian customs officials who had started clearance of the convoy the previous day, on August 22, “were blocked by the Russian forces and prevented from the inspection of the rest of the trucks in the convoy.”

Pavlichenko said that as a result, neither Ukraine nor the Red Cross are aware of the contents of the cargo of the Russian trucks, which “entered the territory of Ukraine without proper border and customs procedures.”

A Pentagon spokesman said the U.S. government “strongly condemns” the unilateral movement of the Russian convoy into Ukraine.

Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, called on the Russians to immediately remove the convoy.

White House adviser Ben Rhodes also called on Russia to withdraw the trucks from Ukraine or “face consequences.”

NATO and the European Union were also quick to condemn the Russian move without the consent of the Ukrainian authorities and without any involvement of the ICRC.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called it “a blatant breach of Russia’s international commitments.”

Rasmussen also said on the alliance had observed an alarming build-up of Russian ground and air forces in the vicinity of Ukraine. He said Russia was fueling the conflict with “artillery support — both cross-border and from within Ukraine.”

NATO Supreme Commander U.S. General Philip Breedlove said, “A forced crossing without authorization or escort indicates that Russia is more interested in resupplying separatists rather than supporting local populations.”

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she deplored Russia’s decision for the convoy to enter Ukraine without a Red Cross escort and without Kyiv’s consent, according to her spokesman. She urged Russia to reverse the decision.

Late on August 22, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius announced that his country’s honorary consul in Luhansk had been “kidnapped and brutally killed by terrorists there,” using the same term for the perpetrators that the government in Kyiv uses for pro-Russian separatists.

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