The dozens of Russian trucks that are supposedly carrying humanitarian supplies to eastern Ukraine are now being accompanied by helicopters and military vehicles, according to pictures taken by journalists currently reporting from the region.
So two of these babies just pulled up behind the convoy line pic.twitter.com/EVyACn40HQ— Courtney Weaver (@courtneymoscow) August 14, 2014
It's not just white aid lorries that are heading down the highway towards Rostov: military vehicles, too. pic.twitter.com/Z12t8cbx0n— Steve Rosenberg (@BBCSteveR) August 14, 2014
Two helicopters accompanying the convoy, flying extremely low. Now sat in the fields alongside pic.twitter.com/yYTr7Vhp8C— Shaun Walker (@shaunwalker7) August 14, 2014
The 262-vehicle fleet that the Russian government says is carrying humanitarian supplies left Moscow on Tuesday for the war-torn areas of eastern Ukraine.
According to The Associated Press, the trucks, which had been parked outside the Russian city of Voronezh since late Tuesday started moving again on Thursday, pivoting west towards Izvaryne, a border crossing controlled by the separatists.
Should the Russians use the Izvaryne crossing they would bypass a checkpoint controlled by the Ukrainian government where the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) examines all of the shipments going in and out of the country.
Courtney Weaver, the Financial Times' deputy Moscow bureau chief, said the convoy's drivers gave her carte blanche to investigate any truck she wished:
Tan men told us we could open any truck we liked. This one had bags full of grechka (buckwheat) pic.twitter.com/nC3j02bcUs— Courtney Weaver (@courtneymoscow) August 14, 2014
The ICRC was given a mandate to handle all shipments of humanitarian aid to places where pro-Russian separatists are fighting Ukrainian nationalists, and although spokeswoman Anastasia Isyuk has said the organization is speaking with the Russians regarding the delivery of aid, no formal agreement has been reached.
The 2 Russian military helicopters are back, so close can see the red star. They've just landed in here pic.twitter.com/RDfutGp3mx— Courtney Weaver (@courtneymoscow) August 14, 2014
Earlier in the week NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned that an attack in eastern Ukraine could come "under the guise of a humanitarian operation."
Both Ukrainian President Porshenko and The White House quickly rejected any attempt by Russia to cross the border into Ukraine without the consent of Kiev and the Ukrainian government responded by sending its own aid trucks to Lugansk.
So @RolandOliphant and I just saw a column of APCs and vehicles with official Russian military plates cross border into Ukraine.— Shaun Walker (@shaunwalker7) August 14, 2014