A Russian convoy of more than 400 aid trucks plus military vehicles was less than 15 miles from the Ukrainian border Thursday, but Ukraine still hasn’t given it permission to cross and considers a crossing an act of war.
The trucks were on their way to Kharkiv, Ukraine, to be inspected by the International Red Cross and Ukrainian officials, but it changed its course Thursday morning. The convoy has been spotted in areas along European route E115 and the M4 highway, which run north and south along the Ukrainian border, about 20 miles inside of Russia.
â€” Volodymyr Solohub (@v_solohub) August 14, 2014
The convoy mainly consists of 260 tractor-trailer trucks filled with what Russia says is only humanitarian aid. Journalists on scene are reporting trucks in areas near multiple border crossings controlled by separatists. There are reports of Russian military vehicles and helicopters accompanying the convoy.
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It's not just white aid lorries that are heading down the highway towards Rostov: military vehicles, too. pic.twitter.com/Z12t8cbx0n
â€” Steve Rosenberg (@BBCSteveR) August 14, 2014
Ukraine has repeatedly accused Russia of plotting a “direct invasion” and of hiding arms among the food and medical supplies Russia says it is delivering to people badly hurt by the war between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists the Luhansk region.
“First they send tanks, Grad missiles and bandits who fire on Ukrainians and then they send water and salt,” Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said Wednesday.
A Ukrainian convoy to relieve the people affected by the war in eastern Ukraine also left western Ukraine on Thursday. Both convoys would have to go through or dangerously close to active combat areas.
Over 2,000 people have now died in the increasingly destructive war in eastern Ukraine. Tens of thousands have fled to Russia, while others are trapped in Ukrainian cities like Luhansk and Donetsk.