Ukraine crisis: 90 Russian aid trucks heading for Ukrainian city is 'direct invasion', Kiev says

The vehicles, filled with humanitarian aid for the citizens of rebel-held Luhansk, was not accompanied by the Red Cross due to the "volatile security situation"

The first of around 260 Russian trucks carrying aid have crossed into a rebel-held area of eastern Ukraine, with the move slammed by the Ukrainian government as a "direct invasion".

A Russian spokesman said that the Kremlin would no longer tolerate further obstructions on the trucks heading for Luhansk, following concerns from some factions that the vehicles could be concealing military personnel.

At least 90 trucks have crossed over the border, Reuters reports, filled with water, medicines, generators and sleeping bags for civilians caught up in the violence.

It is understood that their advance into Ukraine had been initiated without permission from the government and without a previously-agreed Red Cross escort - instead accompanied by a handful of pro-Russia fighters.

The Red Cross tweeted this morning: "The #Russian #AidConvoy is moving into #Ukraine, but we are not escorting it due to the volatile security situation.

"We've not received sufficient security guarantees from the fighting parties. Our team in #Lugansk reports heavy shelling overnight. #Ukraine."

Ukraine has said that while it did not give formal approval for that amount of trucks to pass, it allowed them to so as to avoid "provocations", the Foreign Minister said. It had previously officially cleared just a few dozen.

Ukraine's Security Service head Valentyn Nalyvaichenko said the invasion "happened for the first time under the cover of the Red Cross".

The convoy continued despite both sides in the conflict ignoring pleas for a ceasefire. Ukraine confirmed it would not launch air strikes against the convoy.

"Ukraine will liaise with the International Committee of the Red Cross so that we, Ukraine, are not involved in provocations that we have been holding up or using force against the vehicles of so-called aid," a spokesperson said.

The Ukrainian city of Luhansk is plagued by fighting between separatists and government forces and has experienced continued shelling for weeks.

A statement on the Russian foreign ministry's website said that its side “has decided to act”.

“Our column with humanitarian aid is starting to move in the direction of Luhansk.”

The trucks sent from Russia had been stalled within a no-man’s land near the border for over a week.

It was thought that international Red Cross workers and border guards had inspected some of the fleet as it waited, but that much of the rest haven't been, according to Ukraine's Security Council.

READ MORE: Russia 'guarantees' convoy will not be used for 'invasion'
'We are getting reinforcements,' says separatist leader
'Refugees burned alive' as convoy hit by missile strike

Russia had promised that the convoy was no Trojan Horse and expressed frustration at Ukraine for its “endless, concocted delays” and for its shelling of residential areas that the convoy would need to pass through.

A Russian customs spokesman, Rayan Farukshin, told the Associated Press yesterday: “There is increasingly a sense that the Ukrainian leaders are deliberately dragging out the delivery of the humanitarian load until there is a situation in which there will no longer be anyone left to help.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk