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No Russian troops in humanitarian convoy, Moscow tells US

Posted on Aug 16 2014 | IANS

Washington, Aug 16 : Russian defence minister assured US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel Friday that the humanitarian convoy Moscow sent to Ukraine is not carrying any Russian troops, the Pentagon said.

Hagel and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Shoygu, spoke over telephone, Efe quoted Defence Department spokesman John Kirby as saying.

"Minister Shoygu guaranteed that there were no Russian military personnel involved in the humanitarian convoy, nor was the convoy to be used as a pretext to further intervene in Ukraine," Kirby said in a statement summarising the call.

More than 200 Russian trucks carrying nearly 2,000 tons of supplies reached the Ukrainian border Friday.

The contents were inspected by Ukrainian customs officials in conjunction with Red Cross personnel.

Russia organised the convoy to aid residents of the besieged eastern Ukrainian city of Ukraine, a bastion of the ethnic-Russian militias who are battling the Kiev government.

"The Russian defence chief acknowledged that the goods would be delivered and distributed under the International Committee of the Red Cross. Minister Shoygu assured Secretary Hagel that Russia was meeting Ukraine's conditions," Kirby said.

The European Union (EU) Friday urged Russia to "put an immediate stop to any form of border hostilities".

The EU said Russia's "any unilateral military actions" in Ukraine "under any pretext, including humanitarian", will be considered by the EU as "blatant violation of international law".

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