A Russian convoy of nearly three hundred trucks carrying what the Kremlin says is humanitarian aid has set off from Moscow headed for the embattled eastern region of Ukraine where Kyiv forces are closing in on pro-Russian separatists.
But Ukrainian authorities have warned they will not allow any of the vehicles into Ukraine if they are accompanied by the Russian military or members of Russia’s emergency ministry. Instead, a Ukrainian presidential aide said that the cargo will be transferred onto other transport vehicles by the Red Cross before being brought into Ukraine.
In eastern Ukraine thousands of people have been without water, electricity and medical aid for nearly two weeks because of the fighting between the pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian military.
Moscow says the trucks are carrying items such as babyfood, fruit juice, sugar, buckwheat and rice.
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said the aid mission could be an attempt by Moscow to install a permanent presence in Ukraine.
US President Barack Obama said that any Russian intervention without Kyiv’s consent would violate international law.
But Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said everything had been agreed with Ukraine.
The one thousand kilometre journey to Ukraine’s border should take a day or two.