Kiev/Moscow, Aug 22 IANS | 4 months ago

Ukraine Friday accused Russia of invading the country after a convoy of Russian trucks carrying humanitarian aid crossed the border allegedly without permission or supervision of the Red Cross, Efe news agency reported.

In remarks to the press in Kiev, the head of Ukraine's Security Service, Valentin Nalivaychenko, called the move "a direct invasion under the cynical cover of the Red Cross" and said the convoy was made up of military vehicles with false documents.

A group of 34 trucks Friday crossed the Ukrainian border of Izvarino, partially controlled by pro-Russian rebels fighting the Ukrainian Government, and was followed shortly thereafter by 100 more vehicles, Russian media reported.

Andrei Lisenko, spokesman of Ukraine's Security Service, said unlike the 34 first trucks, which were checked Thursday night, the second convoy of vehicles had not been checked by Ukrainian customs officers and Red Cross officials.

In Geneva, the Red Cross confirmed that the trucks had entered Ukraine but added that its delegates were not accompanying them due to security concerns.

The organisation said it had not received sufficient security guarantees from the two warring sides in eastern Ukraine and noted that there had been heavy fighting in the area overnight.

Kiev had given the green signal to the Russian convoy on the condition the Red Cross took responsibility for the shipment on Ukrainian territory and had one of its representatives in each truck.

The trucks are part of a 260-vehicle convoy carrying some 2,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid for civilians in the rebel-held eastern Ukrainian cities of Lugansk and Donetsk, which have been left without water, energy and other basic supplies after weeks of a siege by government forces.

The trucks had been stranded near the border with eastern Ukraine for over a week amid fears in Kiev that they included weapons and military supplies for the rebels and were part of a broader Russian intervention in the country.

After a week of diplomatic tension, Russia warned Friday that the convoy would enter Ukraine even without permision from Kiev.

According to an earlier ITAR-TASS report, a total of 70 Russian trucks carrying humanitarian aid entered Ukrainian territory Friday after clearing border customs.

The convoy was headed towards the Luhansk region in the southeastern Ukraine, it said.

Russia Aug 12 dispatched the convoy of white-painted Kamaz trucks with humanitarian supplies.

The Russian authorities said the humanitarian cargo included 400 tonnes of grains, 100 tonnes of sugar, 62 tonnes of baby food, 54 tonnes of medicines and medical items, 12,000 sleeping bags and 69 mobile power generators.

The convoy reached Russia's southern Rostov region Aug 17 and until Thursday was idling near the border waiting for permission to enter Ukraine.

The week-long delay in the delivery of the humanitarian cargo was condemned Thursday by the Russian foreign ministry, which said in a statement that such a situation was intolerable.

According to the UN, the conflict in eastern Ukraine has claimed over 1,500 lives and injured 4,390 people.

Almost 850,000 people have been displaced and forced to flee their homes.

(Posted on 22-08-2014)

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