West Says Russia Must Pull Ukraine Aid Convoy
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - The US and Germany have denounced the movement of a Russian aid convoy into Ukraine without permission from Kiev, calling on Moscow to stop dangerous escalations in its neighbor country.
US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have discusses the Ukraine crisis over the phone on Friday, according to a White House statement.
Both leaders believe that the presence of Russian soldiers in Ukraine, the build-up of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border and Russian shelling into Ukraine represent dangerous escalations of tensions by Moscow, the White House said.
It also said the two leaders agreed that a Russian convoy that entered Ukraine without approval is yet another provocation by Moscow that violates Ukraine's sovereignty.
Obama and Merkel agree that Russia must remove the convoy and withdraw from Ukrainian territory, the statement said.
Mark Lyall Grant, British ambassador to the UN, also called Russia's aid convoy "an undeniable and blatant violation of Ukrainian sovereignty" after a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council. Grant said Moscow had no support in the council for its action, an assertion the Russian ambassador denies.
Russia says the convoy that entered Ukraine on Friday is for humanitarian purposes, but Ukraine and the US say the Russians failed to abide by conditions set by Ukraine and the International Red Cross.
Vitaly Churkin, Russia's UN ambassador, said that Moscow "waited long enough and it was time to move".
"At times it seems there is no clear chain of command in Kiev, because some assurances are given [to Russia] at a very high level and then others do not give the orders which are required ... by the border police to let the [aid] trucks in," Churkin said. "That game could not continue indefinitely."
Ukraine's state security chief said the move amounted to a "direct invasion" by Russia.
"We consider this a direct invasion by Russia of Ukraine," Valentyn Nalivaychenko, Ukraine's state security chief, told journalists, according to the Reuters news agency.
He added that Ukraine would not use force against the convoy "to avoid provocations".
At least 90 trucks crossed the border into eastern Ukraine on Friday, Reuters reported. It was thought they were escorted by pro-Kremlin separatists and later entered Luhansk.