Russian 'aid' convoy in limbo, Kyiv and Moscow trade barbs over 'incursion'

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Russian 'aid' convoy in limbo, Kyiv and Moscow trade barbs over 'incursion'

Russian 'aid' convoy in limbo, Kyiv and Moscow trade barbs over 'incursion'
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More than 250 Russian lorries are still waiting in a field near the border with Ukraine as officials from both countries finalise the practical details for delivering their cargo.

On board – the Russians have said – is humanitarian aid for people trapped by the fighting between Kyiv’s troops and pro-Moscow separatists.

Russia says the Ukrainian offensive is causing a humanitarian catastrophe for the civilian population in Donetsk and Luhansk where the conflict is concentrated.

The Ukrainians fears the convoy could be used to help resupply the rebels.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe has representatives at the scene who confirmed the two sides are talking to each other.

The Red Cross has said it will distribute the food and other supplies .. once it gets assurances its people would be safe.

It also wants inspections by Ukrainian border guards and customs agents to confirm the strictly humanitarian nature of the cargo.

The roads in the area on the Russian side are heavy with military vehicles.

Kyiv has claimed it destroyed part of a Russian armoured column on Ukrainian territory in the early hours of Friday morning, but has yet to provide proof. The Russia Defence Ministry called that a “fantasy”.

Ukraine has not made clear if the vehicles were manned by Russian soldiers or separatist irregulars.

The report of the attack on the armoured column on Friday raised concerns that the Ukraine conflict could morph into an open confrontation between Russia and Western-backed Kiev. But Moscow made no threat of retaliation.

In Washington, the White House said it could not confirm that Russian vehicles had been attacked on Ukrainian soil.

On Friday, Britain’s Guardian and Daily Telegraph newspapers said that their reporters had witnessed more than 20 military vehicles, including armoured personnel carriers and fuel tankers, entering Ukraine from Russia at a remote unofficial border crossing.