- The Washington Times - Friday, August 22, 2014

The U.S. accused Russia Friday of violating international law by sending military vehicles disguised as civilian trucks into Ukraine as part of a supposed humanitarian mission in the war-torn region.

The White House demanded that Moscow “remove its vehicles and its personnel from the territory of Ukraine immediately.”

“This is a flagrant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by Russia,” said White House national security spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. “We condemn this action by Russia, for which it will bear additional consequences.”

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen condemned the convoy’s entry into eastern Ukraine Friday as “a blatant breach of Russia’s international commitments” and said it would deepen the crisis.

“The disregard of international humanitarian principles raises further questions about whether the true purpose of the aid convoy is to support civilians or to resupply armed separatists,” Gen. Rasmussen said in a statement.

More than 145 trucks of a Russian humanitarian convoy crossed into Ukraine on Friday without the permission of Ukrainian government or escorts of the International Committee of the Red Cross. A Ukrainian official called the convoy “an invasion.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Friday that Moscow has lost patience with “delays” and “excuses” from Ukraine after a nearly 10-day standoff that it said was preventing aid from reaching civilians in the pro-Russian territory.

The White House said the international community had made clear that the convoy could only enter Ukraine with the agreement of Kiev and escorts of the ICRC.

“That is not what is taking place,” Ms. Hayden said. “Russia’s decision today to send in its vehicles and personnel without the ICRC and without the express permission of the Ukrainian authorities only amplifies international concerns about Russia’s true intentions.”

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