Report: Ukraine may block Russian aid

Aug 12, 2014, 7:29 AM EDT
Women with their children refugees from Donetsk and Lugansk regions receive aid.
AFP/Getty Images

Almost 300 lorries of humanitarian aid have left the Moscow area bound for eastern Ukraine, and there is some sense that Ukrainian officials were taken by surprise by the move. From the BBC:

 

Russian TV showed the cargo, said to include hundreds of tonnes of grain, baby food and medicine, which will go to civilians trapped by fighting in the area held by pro-Russia rebels. Media reports said the cargo left from a point south-west of Moscow. It is expected to arrive at the Ukrainian border in the next two days.

The BBC's David Stern, in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, says there has been some confusion in the Ukrainian government's response to news of the convoy, suggesting it has been taken by surprise.

A Russian Emergencies Ministry spokesman later told the BBC that the Russian lorries would not cross the border, and that it was up to the Red Cross to decide what to do with the aid.

 

Meanwhile, Russia is pressing on with the aid mission despite warnings from Western powers about using the humanitarian help as a pretext for an invasion. Reuters reports:

 

With Ukraine reporting Russia has massed 45,000 troops on its border, NATO said there was a "high probability" that Moscow could intervene militarily in the country's east, where Kiev's forces are closing in on pro-Russian separatists.

Western countries believe that Putin - who has whipped up the passions of Russians with a nationalist campaign in state-controlled media since annexing Crimea from Ukraine in March - could now send his forces into the east to head off a humiliating rebel defeat.

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