Reports have it that at least 70 trucks from a controversial Russian aid convoy are on their way to the embattled city of Luhansk in Ukraine. It is believed the move would further escalate tensions between Moscow and Kiev. Kiev had insisted Red Cross observers must inspect the about 260 trucks purportedly carrying relief materials from Russia to the embattled pro-Russian cities of Donetsk and Luhansk. Ukraine and Western leaders fear the purported humanitarian aid is a pretext by Moscow to ferry weapons in, and corpses of Russian rebel fighters out of Ukraine. A suspicion Moscow has severally denied.
Russia’s foreign ministry defended the trucks entry into Ukraine, stating it could “not wait any longer” after being stuck at the border for more than a week. It added Ukraine’s pussy-footing aimed at “deliberately dragging out the delivery of the humanitarian aid” so it could complete a “military cleansing of Luhansk and Donetsk” by Independence Day celebrations on Sunday and before Poroshenko and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, meet in Minsk on Tuesday. The statement was no more combative, warning “against any attempts to disrupt this strictly humanitarian mission, which was prepared some time ago amid complete transparency and cooperation with the Ukrainian side and the ICRC.”
The white vehicles passed through a Ukrainian border post controlled by pro-Russian fighters and were being escorted by rebels in cars. Head of Ukraine’s security service, Valentin Nalyvaichenko,called the action a “direct invasion” but ruled out Ukrainian troops using force against the convoy. The four-month-old fighting between the rebels and government forces have left thousands of civilians in the region without basic necessities of life. Kiev, Moscow and Red Cross representatives have agreed to oversee the aid delivery to the city.