by Dish Staff
The Russian aid convoy Ukraine believes to be a Trojan horse might just be a decoy. Journalists who had a chance to look inside some of the trucks said they did contain humanitarian supplies like buckwheat and sleeping bags, but suspiciously, some of them were almost completely empty. Meanwhile, a column of Russian armored vehicles was spotted crossing into Ukraine yesterday:
The Guardian saw a column of 23 armoured personnel carriers, supported by fuel trucks and other logistics vehicles with official Russian military plates, travelling towards the border near the Russian town of Donetsk – about 200km away from Donetsk, Ukraine. After pausing by the side of the road until nightfall, the convoy crossed into Ukrainian territory, using a rough dirt track and clearly crossing through a gap in a barbed wire fence that demarcates the border. Armed men were visible in the gloom by the border fence as the column moved into Ukraine. Kiev has lost control of its side of the border in this area.
The trucks are unlikely to represent a full-scale official Russian invasion, and it was unclear how far they planned to travel inside Ukrainian territory and how long they would stay. But it was incontrovertible evidence of what Ukraine has long claimed – that Russian troops are active inside its borders.
What’s more, Ukraine claims to have attacked and destroyed most of the Russian APCs:
Ukraine said its artillery partly destroyed a Russian armoured column that entered its territory overnight and said its forces came under shellfire from Russia on Friday in what appeared to be a major military escalation between the ex-Soviet states. Russia’s government denied its forces had crossed into Ukraine and accused Kiev of trying to sabotage deliveries of aid. NATO said there had been a Russian incursion into Ukraine, while avoiding the term invasion, and European capitals accused the Kremlin of escalating the fighting.
Kiev and its Western allies have repeatedly accused Russia of arming pro-Moscow separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, and of sending undercover military units onto Ukrainian soil. But evidence of Russian military vehicles captured or destroyed on Ukrainian territory would give extra force to Kiev’s allegations – and possibly spark a new round of sanctions against the Kremlin.
But Anna Nemtsova remains suspicious of the convoy itself:
Authorities in Kiev and the International Committee of the Red Cross demanded the Kremlin present a detailed inventory of what was inside the glistening convoy. And Aleksander Cherkasov, director of the human rights center “Memorial,” laid out several problematic questions in an interview with The Daily Beast: “We would like to know why the military trucks were loaded not by the ministry of emergency affairs but at the base of Tamanskaya Motor and Rifle Division in Moscow region,” said Cherkasov. “And also, for what reason about 30 military vehicles that accompany the convoy have no plates on them.” This is a problem, since no traffic police can identify any of the trucks if they start to disperse once they enter Ukraine.
“This time the Kremlin is openly supporting separatists in Ukraine by sending in military vehicles,” said Cherkasov. “If the trucks cross the border without official permission from Kiev, it would be considered a pure invasion.”