Friday, August 22, 2014

Russia escalates tensions with aid convoy, reported firing of artillery inside Ukraine

By Karoun Demirjian and Michael Birnbaum August 22 at 6:51 PM, WashPost,

MOSCOW — The conflict between Russia and Ukraine hit dangerous new heights Friday as Russia sent an enormous aid convoy into rebel-held Ukrainian territory without the permission of the Kiev government, a move that a top Ukrainian security official described as a “direct invasion.” The maneuver came amid reports from NATO that Ukrainian troops were coming under Russian artillery fire from inside their borders.

“Russian artillery support — both cross-border and from within Ukraine — is being employed against the Ukrainian armed forces,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement accusing Moscow of a “blatant breach of Russia’s international commitments” that would intensify a crisis he said it had helped to create and fuel.

“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,” Rasmussen said. It was the strongest denunciation of Russia’s role in Ukraine that NATO has issued and the first time the alliance has accused Russian forces of firing artillery at the Ukrainian army from within Ukraine.

(More here.)

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