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Russian convoy enters Ukraine

September 13, 2014

A second Russian convoy of humanitarian aid has rolled into eastern Ukraine. The country's prime minister, meanwhile, has accused Moscow of seeking to 'eliminate' Ukraine as an independent country.

Zweiter russischer Hilfskonvoi IST in der Ostukraine
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

A Russian convoy carrying humanitarian aid crossed the border into eastern Ukraine early on Saturday, but several hours after the trucks had entered the country, details remained sketchy.

The Associated Press cited a spokesman for Russia's customs agency, Rayan Farukshin, who said the trucks had crossed the frontier at the Russian border town of Donetsk, located 200 kilometers (120 miles) east of the better-known Ukrainian city by the same name. Farukshin was unable to say how many trucks were involved, but the Russian news agency ITAR TASS put the figure at around 250.

No matter what the actual figure turns out to be, Ukrainian officials quickly cried foul.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, Colonel Andriy Lysenko, told reporters in Kyiv that the Russian trucks had entered the country "illegally."

"Ukraine border guards and customs were not allowed to examine the cargo and vehicles," Lysenko said. "Representatives of the Red Cross don't accompany the cargo, nobody knows what's inside."

An official with the Moscow office of the International Committee of the Red Cross said the organization had no knowledge of the convoy.

"We were not officially notified of an agreement between Moscow and Kyiv to ship the cargo," Galina Balzamova told the Associated Press.

Kyiv described a previous Russian convoy that crossed the border without the approval of the Ukrainian authorities in August as "a direct invasion."

Fighting around Donetsk airport

Meanwhile, a ceasefire signed by the Ukrainian government, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, pro-Russia separatists and Russia in Minsk earlier this month appeared to be under serious threat, with the Reuters news agency reporting that heavy artillery fire had been heard in Donetsk airport on Saturday.

The Ukrainian military also claimed to have repelled an attack on the airport by pro-Russia separatists on Friday.

Yatsenyuk accuses Putin

Also on Saturday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of seeking to take over his entire country.

"His goal is to take the entire Ukraine... he wants to eliminate Ukraine as an independent country," Yatsenyuk told a conference attended by Ukrainian and European lawmakers and business leaders in Kyiv on Saturday.

The Ukrainian prime minister also called on the European Union and the United States to play a direct role in talks towards a peace agreement that would ensure Ukraine's long-term sovereignty.

"They (Moscow) will outplay us," Yatsenyuk warned. "Putin wants to get another frozen conflict and get his hands on our belly fat."

pfd/shs (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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