Trucks of Russian humanitarian convoy wait at the location outside Voronezh some 400 km outside Moscow on August 13, 2014. A massive Russian aid convoy rumbled towards Ukraine's border on August 13 as Kiev vowed to block what it feared could be a "Trojan horse" bringing military assistance to pro-Kremlin rebels fighting a bloody insurgency in the east. Russian television images showed a line of nearly 300 lorries moving through the countryside, covered with white tarpaulin and stretching over almost three kilometres (two miles).
© AFP PHOTO / VLADIMIR BARYSHEV
As Ukrainian officials agreed to allow a massive Russian humanitarian aid transport to enter the country through a separatist controlled border check point in Izvaryne, an unspecified number of Russian armored vehicles crossed the border without any prior arrangement.
The first reports of illegal border crossing came from Western journalists and Ukrainian officials on the ground in the evening of Aug. 14. Anti-Terrorist Operation spokesperson Oleksiy Dmytrashkivskiy confirmed the information in the morning of Aug. 15.
In the meantimes, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that an agreement had been reached with Russian authorities and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which would allow the aid to enter Ukraine in accordance with Ukrainian law and be transported by the ICRC.
“It has been agreed that all humanitarian supplies, including Russian humanitarian aid destined for territory controlled by terrorists, will be delivered exclusively by the ICRC. The Committee will perform all of the logistics associated with storing and distributing the aid,” said a ministry statement released on Aug. 15.
Ukraine has previously stated that if the transport entered Ukraine without the government’s consent it would consider the move an act of aggression.
Meanwhile Western journalists following the aid convoy reported seeing a column of Russian military vehicles enter Ukraine on Aug. 14 via the same separatist controlled border checkpoint the aid transport is set to pass through.
On the other side of the border Ukrainian officials are noting an increase in separatist forces. Early on Aug. 15 advisor to Ministry of Interior Affairs, Anatoliy Herashchenko, told Ukrainian media that according to his sources 70 armored vehicles entered Ukraine from Russia that night.
Ukraine and Western governments have previously accused Russia of providing heavy arms to separatists in eastern Ukraine. Moscow, however, denies these allegations.
At present it remains unclear whether the Russian aid will be transferred to the ICRC before entering Ukraine or at some point after. Ukraine has stated that Russia is responsible for the safety of individuals delivering the aid, but military and humanitarian transports entering through the same checkpoints and traveling the same routes to embattled eastern Ukrainian cities is likely to complicate safety guarantees.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also announced on that a separate aid transport originating from Kyiv has arrived in Starobilsk and is being sorted by the ICRC for delivery to civilians in Luhansk.
The humanitarian situation in in separatist held eastern Ukraine has come under increasing international focus following an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council and The United Nation’s nearly doubled its estimate for the number of people killed in eastern Ukraine to 2,086 as of Aug. 10 from 1,129 on July 26.