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US condemns Russia for aid convoy crossing into Ukraine

U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden condemned Russia for allowing a convoy of aid trucks to cross the Ukrainian border on Friday without permission or an escort of independent observers. Hayden called the action "a flagrant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity."
The Russian Foreign Ministry said the trucks, which had been waiting for more that a week at the border, was “aid to the people in disaster areas.”
Ukraine said the move was an “invasion” as President Petro Poroshenko said more than 100 trucks had crossed his country’s border.
"Russian military vehicles painted to look like civilian trucks forced their way into Ukraine," Hayden said. "While a small number of these vehicles were inspected by Ukrainian customs officials, most of the vehicles have not been inspected by anyone but Russia," she added.
The Ukrainian government said that the convoy would constitute a humanitarian mission only if expressly agreed to by the Ukrainian government and only if the aid was inspected, escorted and distributed by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
"Under the agreed terms, the mission should have been accomplished by sending a small number of inspected trucks in to drop their supplies and return to Russia within 24 hours by the same approved route by which they entered. That is not what is taking place," Hayden said.
She also noted that Russia has a sizable military force on the Ukrainian border capable of invading Ukraine on very short notice and called for Russia to remove its vehicles and personnel from the territory of Ukraine.  U.S. Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby also condemned the border crossing.
“Russia should not send vehicles, persons or cargo of any kind into Ukraine, whether under the guise of humanitarian convoys or any other pretext, without Kiev’s express permission,” said Kirby.
Kirby also called for Russia to pull the convoys back across the border. The convoy of about 280 trucks was allowed access to Ukraine by entering a border crossing controlled by Russian Rebels amid fears in Kiev and the West that Russia would use the convoy as a cover for military intervention or to supply Russian rebels with arms. Russia, deploying tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine border, had previously agreed to allow the trucks to be inspected.

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