Ukraine crisis: Russian 'aid' convoy heads straight for rebels in Luhansk as fears intensify of 'direct invasion'
Moscow orders more than 260 trucks to head straight for rebel-held border - after stopping off at a military base in southern Russia
A Russian convoy carrying "humanitarian aid" has turned away from its route towards a confrontation with government officials at the Ukrainian border - and is now heading straight for rebel-held areas.
The huge deployment of around 260 trucks towards eastern Ukraine has sparked international fears of a Trojan Horse-style invasion, as last night the Ukrainian president accused Moscow of potentially planning a "direct invasion of Ukrainian territory under the guise of delivering humanitarian aid".
Moscow said that the column of white spray-painted Kamaz trucks, which left a military depot outside the Russian capital early on Tuesday morning, was full of vital supplies ranging from baby food to sleeping bags.
It had been parked since late on Tuesday at an army base in the southern city of Voronezh while Russian and Ukrainian diplomats argued over how the aid might be received.
Video: Ukraine says no to Russian convoy
By taking the road south towards the rebel-held city of Luhansk, the convoy now appears intent on ignoring a tentative agreement which would have seen it cross the government-controlled border at Kharkiv, where it could be inspected by the international Red Cross.
The border at Luhansk is in the heart of the disputed region and largely rebel-held. Speaking on Tuesday, even the pro-Russian separatist leader Andrei Purgin said he did not expect the aid to be sent there directly.
The Russian convoy parked in the Voronezh region of Russia en route to Ukraine The Red Cross has said that while it is aware of the existence of the Russian convoy, it has no knowledge of where it is headed and "no information" at all about its contents.
Kiev, the West and much of Europe have blamed Russia for providing arms and expertise in support of the rebels in eastern Ukraine, who have been battling government forces since April.
The conflict has killed more than 2,080 people, according to the UN's human rights office in Geneva, and left many more desperately short of food, water and medical aid.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Russian President Vladimir Putin, insisted late on Wednesday that the operation was proceeding in full cooperation with the Red Cross - but did not comment on the route the convoy would take.
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Germany sees 'visible rise' in support for far-right extremism in response to perceived 'Islamisation' of the West
£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...
£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...
£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...
£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...