Russia aid convoy inspected by Ukraine while military vehicles mass on the border
A 262 truck aid caravan from Russia is being inspected by Ukraine border guards as Russian military vehicles have massed at a border crossing.
Dozens of heavy Russian military vehicles massed on Friday near the border with Ukraine, while Ukrainian border guards crossed the frontier to inspect a huge Russian aid convoy.
Kiev has said the humanitarian aid might be used as cover for a Russian military intervention, and has insisted that its forces check the convoy before it moves across the border.
Moscow has denied any ulterior motives, but has allowed Ukrainian border guards to enter Russia and look at the caravan of trucks in an area opposite the frontier town of Izvaryne.
"Ukrainian border guards are there already in large numbers," border guard spokesman Andriy Demchenko said. The Ukrainian military said the inspection began on Friday morning, but it was not clear how long the process might take.
On Thursday, the convoy of some 280 trucks stopped in open fields near the Russian town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky, about 20 km (12 miles) from the border in front of Izvaryne, which is under the control of pro-Russian separatists.
Apart from the trucks, a Reuters reporter at the scene saw a dozen armoured personnel carriers (APCs) on the move not far from the convoy. Another Reuters reporter saw two dozen APCs moving near the border with Ukraine on Thursday night.
The Guardian reported on Friday that its reporter had seen several APCs crossing the border with Ukraine. (bit.ly/1pbRpYg)
Asked about the report, a Ukrainian military spokesman, Oleksiy Dmytrashkivsky, said: "These movements into Ukrainian territory take place practically every day with the aim of provoking (the Ukrainian side). Last night was no exception. Some armoured vehicles came across. We are checking on the quantity and the number of people who came over."
Kiev and NATO have said they fear Russia, which they say has massed more than 40,000 troops near the border, will invade east Ukraine. Russia says it is conducting military exercises and has no plans to invade. It also denies supporting rebels in eastern Ukraine with arms and funds.
More misdirection from Putin, it appears. He's getting what he wants without going to war, simply by threatening Ukraine. He's got NATO running in circles, the US on the sidelines, and everyone else guessing his intentions.
The Kiev government is mounting its own relief effort and is racing to beat the Russian trucks to the region. There's a lot of goodwill in the trucks in addition to aid, and the Ukraine government wants its share of the credit for easing the suffering there.