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Clashes over incursion

August 15, 2014

Ukraine's president has said Russian military trucks that crossed into Ukraine late Thursday were destroyed, as a massive aid convoy remains parked on the Russian side of the border.

Image: Reuters

The Ukrainian army destroyed a number of military vehicles that crossed from Russia into eastern Ukraine late Thursday, the office of President Petro Poroshenko said on Friday.

Poroshenko confirmed reports of the Thursday incursion in talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron and said that a "considerable part of this equipment was destroyed overnight by Ukrainian artillery," the statement posted on the president's website read. The British Foreign Office said Friday that the Russian ambassador to London had been summoned over reports of the incursion.

After reports surfaced on Friday, the United Nations issued a statement calling for an "immediate de-escalation and resolution of the conflict through dialogue." It added, however, that the UN couldn't verify the reports of the incursion.

Moscow has repeatedly denied that any Russian military vehicles entered Ukrainian territory, saying that Ukraine was attempting to block a massive humanitarian aid convoy that remains parked on the Russian side of the border. The Kremlin said Friday that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was in talks with his Ukrainian counterpart on resolving the fate of the convoy.

According to Agence France-Presse, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin has said he will be meeting Lavrov in Berlin on Sunday, at talks brokered by the top diplomats of Germany and France.

Ukraine inspecting Russian aid convoy

Meanwhile, Ukraine announced on Friday that its customs and border service officials had begun inspecting the contents on the aid trucks.

"At 10:00 am [0700 GMT] checks began of the Russian humanitarian assistance at the Russian border post of Donetsk. Fifty-nine Ukrainian officials are taking part in the inspection," Ukrainian military spokesman Leonid Matyukhin told the AFP news agency on Friday.

The Associated Press quoted a border guard official as saying that the convoy of more than 260 trucks would be inspected in the presence of representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The ICRC had previously said on Thursday that it was not yet prepared to get involved in facilitating the aid delivery as a number of its concerns had not been addressed.

Ukrainian officials have expressed fears that Moscow could be planning to use the aid convoy as a cover for running weapons to the pro-Russia separatists fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine - or even to launch an invasion.

Moscow has dismissed those suggestions, saying its intention is to get urgently needed essentials into Luhansk, where the city's residents have been without running water or electricity for almost two weeks.

glb/sb (Reuters, AP, AFP)