In a nearly carbon-copy replica of last Friday when tensions escalated then de-escalated on rumors that Ukraine had attacked a Russian military convoy, today's Yellen speech has been completely upstaged by ongoing developments out of Ukraine, where Kiev condemned the entry of Russian humanitarian convoy trucks (subsequently adding it no longer knows where they are), following Russia's announcement it could wait no longer to provide aid to the citizens of the Donetsk People's Republic. And while NATO promptly echoed Ukraine' position once again as it did last Friday, now it is Russia's turn to explain why it rushed to enter the country, seemingly without express preapproval by the Ukraine government.
As Reuters reports, "Moscow is not in breach of international law over its humanitarian convoy to Ukraine, a senior Russian diplomat said on Friday."
"We are acting in full accordance with international humanitarian law norms," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in a statement. "We cannot accept and will not accept the disastrous situation in which people living in the south-east of Ukraine have found themselves."
Ukraine said on Friday the entry of Russian aid trucks onto its territory was a "flagrant violation" of international law and it appealed to the international community to condemn Russia's actions as illegal and aggressive
Putin also chimed in, expressing concern over the Ukraine military escalation, an escalation which Ukraine and NATO have roundly accused him of creating.
Finally, for those who missed it earlier, here again is the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement on the convoy, google translated:
The situation with endless artificial puffs address the issue of early delivery of Russian humanitarian aid to areas of the South-East of Ukraine has become intolerable.
Motorcade with many hundreds of tons of urgently needed for these regions of humanitarian aid for a week idle on the Russian-Ukrainian border. During this time, the Russian side in all spheres and at all levels have been made unprecedented efforts to settle the formalities. We went to meet all conceivable requirements of the Ukrainian side, given to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), exhaustive lists sent to Lugansk food, water, medicines, essentials, power generators, which require such children, women, the elderly, experiencing daily the horrors of shelling and air raids, which resulted in multiplying the number of killed and wounded, the whole system collapses livelihoods. We went over and over again with respect to the wishes of checking and rechecking the route of delivery, the completion of the procedures for its transmission, with the ICRC signed the necessary documents. Provided all the necessary security guarantees to ensure the provision of such guarantees and by militias - and not only for the Russian columns, but also for humanitarian convoys, directed in Lugansk Kiev authorities.
Meanwhile Kiev for several days set aside formally required to consent to the ICRC, inventing all new pretexts and parallel to increasing attacks on Lugansk and Donetsk with aviation, heavy armor against residential areas and other civilian targets. In recent days, frequent strikes by ballistic missiles, including the deadly "Tochka-U".
It seemed that the situation was resolved on August 21, when the Ukrainian government and, finally, the ICRC reported their readiness to proceed to the design of humanitarian supplies for immediate shipment to Lugansk. Consent of the Ukrainian side at the beginning of the movement of the column has been officially confirmed, without any reservations, in a telephone conversation foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine. August 20 began the customs and border procedures at the checkpoint "Donetsk". However, on 21 August, the process was stopped referring to the sharply intensified shelling of Lugansk. In other words, the Ukrainian authorities themselves bombed destination assistance and for this reason they themselves prohibit its delivery.
Apparently, in Kiev, set out to provide full force "cleansing" of Luhansk and Donetsk for the upcoming Independence Day on 24 August. Strengthens the impression that the current Ukrainian leaders deliberately delaying the delivery of humanitarian aid, in order to achieve a situation where there is no one at all will help to provide. May settle on something to come up with the result to the scheduled August 26 meeting in Minsk.
It is outrageous blatant manipulation of external international experts involved in the preparation of this operation. Endless succession of contradictory, mutually exclusive signals that arrive at our address - a sure sign of "secret games" for the purposes that have nothing to do with solving a specific humanitarian task. Those who "holds the reins," making it difficult to save lives, alleviate the suffering of the wounded and sick, neglected the basics of the human community. Introduces us to the UN Security Council deals with an appeal for urgent humanitarian truce announcement consistently blocked by the very people who claim to preach universal values??. The last time this happened on August 21 when the United States and other Western members of the UN Security Council refused to accept the statement in support of a truce for the period of delivery of humanitarian assistance in Lugansk Russian and Ukrainian columns.
Reiterate all the necessary security guarantees passage of humanitarian convoys are given. In the presence of such guarantees, the ICRC has been officially recognized. Delivery routes known and verified mission of the ICRC. Documents are drawn. Loads have long been ready for inspection by Ukrainian border guards and customs officers, for a week at a checkpoint located "Donetsk" in the Rostov region. Know about it, and in those capitals where tirelessly demonstrate "increased concern" about the situation in the Ukrainian southeast. Nomination of new artificial claims and excuses has become humiliating.
Continue to tolerate such lawlessness, outright lies and inability of the impossible. All excuses for pulling the delivery of aid to people in the area of ??humanitarian catastrophe exhausted. The Russian side decided to act. Our convoy with humanitarian aid begins to move in the direction of Lugansk. Of course, ready for its support of the ICRC, and to their participation in the distribution of aid. We hope that this action will be able to take part and representatives of the Russian Red Cross.
Caution against any attempts to disrupt the purely humanitarian mission, which was prepared long ago, in an atmosphere of complete transparency and in cooperation with the Ukrainian side and the ICRC. Responsibility for the consequences of provocation against the humanitarian convoy entirely fall on those who are willing to continue to bring people's lives as a sacrifice to their ambitions and geopolitical designs, in flagrant violation of the rules and principles of international humanitarian law.
Again call on the Ukrainian leadership and influence him the United States and the European Union to urgently transfer the situation in the South-East of Ukraine into the intercom channel, start the agreements set forth in the Geneva declaration of Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union on April 17, 2014 to terminate the use of force, facilitating humanitarian situation and the immediate beginning of a national dialogue involving all regions of Ukraine.
That said, at this point the potential for further escalation appears limited as the catalyst that many were waiting for now has been triggered and the next major headline event will be if and when there are reports that one or more trucks of the Russian convoy have been attacked or destroyed.