UK & World News

  • 17 August 2014, 1:53

Kiev And Moscow Agree On Ukraine Aid Convoy

Kiev and Moscow have reached agreement on the passage of a Russian aid convoy into eastern Ukraine, according to the Red Cross.

Ukraine's government had been concerned the convoy of about 280 white truckscould be a 'Trojan horse', allowing Russia to set up a permanent presence in rebel-held territory.

But Russia "guaranteed" the US that no military personnel were in the vehicles, which have been stuck near the border for the past few days.

Moscow says the trucks are carrying water, food and medicine for people displaced by fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Red Cross officials - who have been examining the contents of the lorries - said they need security guarantees from both sides before the convoy can start moving across the border.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said he spoke with his Russia counterpart Sergey Shoygo on Friday night and requested clarification on the convoy.

It came after Russia denied it had sent a separate armed convoy into Ukrainian territory that Kiev claims it partially destroyed.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said his forces had destroyed "much" of the Russian column, adding: "We won't tolerate any invasion."

Officials in Kiev said they tracked the vehicles, including armoured personnel carriers, from the border and then attacked with artillery.

Journalists from The Guardian and Daily Telegraph newspapers said they saw around 23 Russian military vehicles crossing the border near the town of Donetsk on Thursday night.

Moscow's Defence Ministry dismissed Kiev's claim that it had sent a convoy into Ukraine as "some kind of fantasy".

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin is due to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Berlin on Sunday to discuss the crisis.

Fighting has escalated in eastern Ukraine, with government troops steadily taking back rebel-held territory.

The city of Luhansk is surrounded by Ukrainian troops and is reportedly suffering from electrical outages and shortages of food and medicine.

In Donetsk, the largest rebel-held city, four people were killed by shelling on Saturday afternoon, the mayor's office said.

The UN says an estimated 2,086 people have been killed and nearly 5,000 wounded in the four-month conflict.

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