Russia “Invades” Ukraine

by Dish Staff

A Russian aid convoy bound for eastern Ukraine crossed the border today without the permission of the Ukrainian government, which is calling the act an “invasion”:

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday morning that Moscow had run out of patience with “delays” and other “excuses” from Ukraine. It charged that Ukraine’s leaders were deliberately trying to slow-walk the delivery of aid to the war-torn region of Luhansk until “there is no one at all to provide help to.”

The decision to send in the aid without the consent of the Red Cross or Ukrainian authorities marked a dangerous new step in the four-month conflict. If Ukrainian forces fire on the trucks, they could trigger an all-out invasion by Russian forces that have accumulated by the tens of thousands across the border from eastern Ukraine. If they allow the trucks to disperse across the Luhansk region without any Ukrainian controls, Russia in effect will have imposed a cease-fire in the fight against pro-Russian separatists without Kiev’s permission.

That’s precisely what Ed Morrissey suspects the Kremlin is trying to do:

Russia tried a direct invasion last week in what appeared to be an attempt to start a shooting war. Although Russia later denied it, at first they confirmed the incursion, but didn’t follow up with military action when it came under Ukrainian fire. Prior to that, I warned that the aid convoy could be used to force the Ukrainian military into a unilateral cease-fire to prevent any Russian retaliation for convoy losses in potential firefights, and that seems to be at least one of the motives for running through the border now. Otherwise, why not wait for the inspections? …

Until the rebellion gets settled one way or the other, peace will not be forthcoming. The aid convoy only delays that resolution if Russia plans to use it as a barricade for the rebels, or as a beachhead for an occupation.

The Interpreter live-blog passes along a report that most of the trucks had not been inspected by Ukrainian border guards:

“In total, 34 people and 34 vehicles were processed. The total weight was 268,020 kg. Vehicles were loaded to two thirds of their capacity. The average weight of one vehicle was 8,375 kg. 32 trucks carried food products (buckwheat, rice, sugar and water), 2 trucks carried medical supplies,” report border guards. … Andrei Lysenko, the spokesman for the Ukrainian National Defence and Security Council (SNBO), has told reporters at a briefing today that more than 90 trucks (note that only 34 passed customs clearance) have set off into Ukrainian territory today.