UK & World News

  • 12 August 2014, 13:30

Ukraine To Stop Russian Aid Convoy At Border

Ukraine has said it will stop an unofficial Russian aid convoy from crossing into a rebel-held part of the country.

Ukraine National Security and Defence Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko said the convoy of 280 lorries was not certified by the official aid coordinator, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The convoy of trucks had departed from a depot near Moscow on Tuesday morning and was expected to take up to a day to arrive at an undisclosed border location.

The ICRC confirmed it had no information on what the trucks were carrying or where they were going but Russian media said the vehicles were loaded with 2,000 tons of goods.

An orthodox priest walked along and blessed the trucks prior to their leaving the departure point.

ICRC Ukraine mission spokesman Andre Loersch said that while it had reached a general agreement about aid delivery to the region, he had "no information about the content" of the trucks or destination.

The mission has raised fears in Ukraine and the West that it is being used as a pretext for sending troops, agents or arms to rebel-held areas adjacent to the Russian border.

Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said there was a "high probability" that Russia could intervene militarily in eastern Ukraine.

Mr Rasmussen said: "We see the Russians developing the narrative and pretext under the guise of a humanitarian operation.

"And we see a military build-up that could be used to conduct such illegal military operations in Ukraine."

Russia firmly denies the allegations but Nato said Moscow has massed 20,000 troops along the border - Kiev put the number at 45,000 troops.

EU humanitarian aid commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said aid deliveries must always comply "with the principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence".

US President Barack Obama had earlier urged Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko to allow in humanitarian aid, including goods from Russia, to ease civilian suffering.

The White House said "any Russian intervention in Ukraine without the formal, express consent and authorisation would be unacceptable and a violation of international law".

More than 1,300 lives have been lost since April in the country, according to the United Nations.

It was unclear whether the trucks would cross the border and at least 60 miles of the border is currently in rebel hands.

The ICRC said it was ready to facilitate any aid operation with the involvement of all sides concerned.

But Laurent Corbaz, ICRC head of operations for Europe and central Asia, said "practical details of this operation need to be clarified" before the deliveries could be made.

French President Francois Hollande told Russian leader Vladimir Putin he had "grave concerns" about the mission.

His comments came as officials in Moscow said payment for two French-built helicopter carriers would only be made after the ships were delivered in 2015.

:: Ukraine's national currency fell on Tuesday to a record low against the US dollar, the strife-torn country's central bank said.

 

Advertisement