It took virtually no time from the announcement of the massive, 300-vehicle strong Russian humanitarian convoy destined to alleviate the crisis in east Ukraine, to its departure, leading many to assume - correctly - that the operation had been planned weeks in advance.
Truck convoy sets out from Alabino near Moscow (RIA)
Russian TV showed the aid being loaded onto trucks.
However, with the trucks currently in transit from a point southwest of Moscow and set to enter Ukrainian territory through a customs checkpoint in the Kharkiv region, according to former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, a snag has appeared: Ukraine, which previously blessed the Russian convoy's entry into the country has had a change of heart and has announced it would not allow the convoy in its current state.
- UKRAINE WON'T ALLOW RUSSIAN AID CONVOY TO ENTER, CHALY SAYS
As Ukraine security council spokesman Andriy Lysenko said early this morning, the convoy should pass through a government-controlled border post and be accompanied by Red Cross officials. As BBC adds, what was previously a greenlighted operation merely under the condition that it was spearheaded by the Red Cross, Lysenko said Ukraine had three conditions for receiving the aid:
- That it should pass through a border post controlled by Ukrainian government guards
- That it should be accompanied by Red Cross representatives
- That a decision should be made about the amount being sent, its destination and route.
Lysenko further adds that the convoy of 280 trucks dispatched on Tuesday “did not pass the ICRC certification.”
Another Ukrainian official, Valery Chaly, said Ukraine would not allow access to a convoy accompanied by the Russian military or Emergencies Ministry.
The BBC's David Stern, in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, says there has been some confusion in the Ukrainian government's response to news of the convoy, suggesting it has been taken by surprise. Nothing surprising about that.
Presidential aide Valery Chaliy said Kiev wants the entire cargo to be unloaded on the border and transferred to Red Cross vehicles.
“We will not allow any escort of the Russian Emergencies Ministry or Russian military,” he said. “Ukraine will take responsibility for this procedure.”
According to RT, Lysenko claimed that the convoy consists of repainted military trucks and is accompanied by an S-300 air defense system, according to the news agency Ukraine National News.
He didn’t elaborate on why Russia would need to send a system that is meant to protect key strategic positions from enemy aircraft and missiles, but is useless in guarding a convoy of vehicles on the move.
Meanwhile, the confusion grows: the Red Cross said it was informed by Moscow that the convoy had been dispatched, but had yet to receive detailed shipping lists and distribution plans.
“The situation is changing by the hour and right now we are not in a position to provide further details now as to how this operation could take place,” ICRC spokesperson Anastasiya Isyuk told RT.
We've been told by Russian authorities that an aid convoy is heading to #Ukraine border. We're not in charge of this convoy at the moment.— ICRC (@ICRC) August 12, 2014
Important details still need to be clarified, like content & volume of aid. We're in touch with #Ukraine and Russian authorities about this.— ICRC (@ICRC) August 12, 2014
Earlier, Moscow said that the humanitarian mission had been agreed by all parties concerned. Russia has sent some 2,000 tons of aid to Ukraine, including food, medicine, sleeping bags and power generators.
Needless to say, that is not what Ukraine thinks: Kiev earlier accused Moscow of trying to conduct a stealth invasion of Ukraine under a guise of humanitarian aid, saying that Russian troops would be posing as guards of the convoy while actually tasked with starting an offensive. And a headline from Bloomberg:
- LYSENKO SAYS RUSSIA SENDS MILITARY GEAR IN GUISE OF AID CONVOY
So what happens from here on out is unclear, although it is safe to say that the fate of the BTFD algos today lies in the hands of some 280 freshly painted white trucks.