Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Global Impact: West Concerned Re: Moscow's Pretense to Provide "Humanitarian Support"

According to Reuters, a Russian convoy carrying food, water and other aid set off on Tuesday (August 12) for eastern Ukraine, where government forces are closing in on pro-Russian rebels, but Kiev said it would not allow the vehicles to cross onto its territory.

Kiev and Western governments warned Moscow against any attempt to turn the operation into a military intervention via a pretense in a region facing a humanitarian crisis after four months of warfare.

"This cargo will be reloaded onto other transport vehicles (at the border) by the Red Cross," Ukrainian presidential aide Valery Chaly said.

"We will not allow any escort by the Emergencies Ministry of Russia or by the military (onto Ukrainian territory). Everything will be under the control of the Ukrainian side," he told journalists.

Russian media said the massive column of 280 trucks had left from near Moscow and it would take a couple of days for it to make the 1,000 km (620 mile) journey to Ukraine's eastern regions where rebel fighters seek union with Russia.

Western countries believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has whipped up nationalist fervor in Russia through the state-controlled media since annexing Crimea in March, might be favorably motivated to further political encroachments since the Obama Administration has seemingly "taken its pack off."

Rossiya 24 TV revealed a three-kilometer (1.86 miles) long line of containers and trucks loaded with crates of water stretched along a road with workers in a light summer wear of shorts and shirts loading sacks of aid. A Russian orthodox priest marched across a line of trucks, spraying them with holy water before they left.

COMMENT: First up, Putin, being a product of the KGB throughout much of his earlier career, wouldn't recognize the truth on his best day.

The US, French and Australian governments voiced concern that Russia, sole international supporter of rebels in Ukraine's Russian-speaking east, could use the humanitarian deliveries to carry out a covert operation to help fighters who appear to be on the verge of defeat.

With Ukraine reporting Russia has massed 45,000 troops on its border, NATO said on Monday (August 11) that there was a "high probability" Moscow might now intervene militarily in Ukraine.

ITAR-TASS news agency said the convoy was carrying 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid. It included 400 tons of cereals, 100 tons of sugar, 62 tons of baby food, 54 tons of medical equipment and medicine, 12,000 sleeping bags and 69 generators of various sizes.

Thousands of people are believed to be short of water, electricity and medical aid in Donetsk and in the border town of Luhansk due to bitter fighting, involving air strikes and missile attacks.

UN agencies say well over 1,000 people have been killed, including government forces, rebels and civilians, in the conflict in which a Malaysian airliner was downed on July 17 with the deaths of all 298 people on board.

Kiev and its Western allies say Russia, which opposes the new leadership's pro-Western policies, has been funneling tanks, missiles and other heavy weapons to the rebels for months. Moscow denies this.

Suspicious of Russian intentions, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said Ukraine will allow Russian aid into the country only as part of an international relief mission, under the auspices of the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) and involving the US, EU and other nations.

In Geneva, an ICRC spokesperson said: "We still need clarification, details on the content (of the convoy) and type of transportation and storage needed."

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told reporters: "Any intervention by Russia into Ukraine under the guise of an humanitarian crisis would be seen for the transparent artifice that it is and Australia would condemn (it) in the strongest possible terms.

US President Barack Obama said on Monday (August 11) that any Russian intervention without Kiev's consent would be unacceptable and violate international law. So?  What overt decision could President Obama make that would cause Putin to "tremble in his boots"?

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso warned on Monday (August 11) "against any unilateral military actions in Ukraine, under any pretext, including humanitarian."