Tuesday, May 5, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Russian aid convoy reaches war-torn Luhansk

By
From page A2 | August 22, 2014 |

LUHANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Declaring it had lost patience with Ukraine’s stalling tactics, Russia sent at least 130 aid trucks rolling into rebel-held eastern Ukraine on Friday without the approval of the government in Kiev. Ukraine called the move a “direct invasion” that aimed to provoke an international incident.

The unilateral move sharply raised the stakes in eastern Ukraine, for any attack on the convoy could draw the Russian military directly into the conflict between the Ukrainian government and the separatist rebels in the east. Ukraine has long accused Russia of supporting and arming the rebels, a charge that Russia denies.

After spending hours on winding country roads, the convoy in began pulling into the hard-hit city of Luhansk, which appeared to be mostly in the hands of the rebels, on Friday evening.

In the past few days, Ukraine said its troops had recaptured significant parts of Luhansk and suspicions were running high that Moscow’s humanitarian operation may instead be aimed at halting Kiev’s military momentum. Fierce fighting has been reported this week both around Luhansk and the largest rebel-held city, Donetsk, with dozens of casualties.

Speaking on national television, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk declared that Russia’s plan in sending half-empty trucks into Ukraine was not to deliver aid but to create a provocation by attacking the convoy itself, thus arranging a “provocation.”

Ukrainian security services chief Valentyn Nalyvaichenko called the convoy a “direct invasion.”

Asked about that, Yatsenyuk replied that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began back in March when it annexed Crimea and has been going on ever since.

NATO’s secretary general condemned Russia for sending in the “so-called humanitarian convoy.” Anders Fogh Rasmussen called Russia’s unilateral decision ” a blatant breach of Russia’s international commitments” and “a further violation of Ukraine’ssovereignty.”

The white-tarped semis, which Russia says are carrying food, water, generators and sleeping bags, aimed to help citizens in Luhansk. The city has seen weeks of heavy shelling that has cut off power, water and phone lines and left food supplies scarce.

Four troops were killed and 23 wounded in the past 24 hours in eastern Ukraine, the government reported at noon Friday.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which had planned to escort the Russian aid convoy to assuage fears that it was a cover for a Russian invasion, said it had not received enough security guarantees to do so Friday, as shelling had continued overnight in the area.

The swiftness with which Russia set the mission into motion last week and the lack of direct involvement from the international community immediately raised questions about Moscow’s intentions. AP journalists following the convoy across country roads heard the trucks’ contents rattling and sliding Friday, confirming that many vehicles were only partially loaded.

Nalyvaichenko, speaking to reporters in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, said the men driving the trucks into Ukraine were Russian military personnel “trained to drive combat vehicles, tanks and artillery.” The half-empty aid trucks would be used to transport weapons to rebels and spirit away the bodies of Russian fighters killed in eastern Ukraine, he said.

He insisted, however, that Ukraine would not shell the convoy.

Ukraine’s presidential administration said Kiev authorized the entrance of only 35 trucks. But the number of Russian vehicles entering the country through a rebel-held border point Friday was clearly way beyond that amount.

An Associated Press reporter saw a priest blessing the first truck in the convoy at the rebel-held checkpoint and then climbing into the passenger seat. A lone border guard unlocked a customs gate, and on the trucks went.

Russian customs service representative Rayan Farukshin said all vehicles in the convoy, which counts more than 260 trucks, had been checked and approved for onward travel. Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said as of midday, 134 Russian aid trucks, 12 support vehicles and one ambulance had crossed into Ukraine.

“The Russian side has decided to act,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “It is no longer possible to tolerate this lawlessness, outright lies and inability to reach agreements … we are warning against any attempts to thwart this purely humanitarian mission.”

Although Luhansk is only 12 miles from the border, the Russian convoy took a meandering route, apparently in an effort to avoid areas controlled by Ukrainian troops.

Shortly after leaving the rebel-held border town of Izvaryne, the convoy turned off of the main highway to Luhansk and headed north on a country road. Rolling on small roads greatly slowed the trucks’ progress, turning what would in peacetime take roughly two hours into a daylong haul.

Rebel forces took advantage of Ukraine’s promise not to shell the convoy to drive on the same country road as the aid trucks. Around lunchtime, around 20 green military supply vehicles — flatbed trucks and fuel tankers — were seen traveling in the opposite direction. Other smaller rebel vehicles could be seen driving around.

The convoy moved along village roads hugging the Russian border, which is marked by the winding Seversky Donets River. In the village of Davydo-Mykilske, less than one kilometer (half a mile) west of the border, AP reporters saw three rebel tanks, dozens of militiamen and several armored personnel carriers.

The trucks from Moscow had been stranded in a customs zone for more than a week since reaching the border. The Russian Foreign Ministry voiced increasing frustration at what it said were Kiev’s efforts to stall its delivery, while Ukraine demanded that the trucks enter through a government-controlled border post so it could check their contents.

The Russian Foreign Ministry had accused the government in Kiev of shelling areas the convoy would have to pass through, making its travel impossible.

“There is increasingly a sense that the Ukrainian leaders are deliberately dragging out the delivery of the humanitarian load until there is a situation in which there will no longer be anyone left to help,” it said Friday in a statement.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry retorted with a statement accusing Russia of “ignoring international rules, procedures and agreements that have been reached.”

Last week, after the Russian aid convoy left Moscow, Ukraine mounted its own humanitarian operation for those affected by fighting in the east. The rebels have said, however, they will not allow that material to enter their territory.

The fighting in eastern Ukraine began in mid-April, a month after Russia annexed Ukraine’s southern Black Sea peninsula. It has killed over 2,000 people and forced 340,000 to flee, according to the United Nations.

————

By Mstyslav Chernov and Peter Leonard. Laura Mills in Moscow and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Kiev, Ukraine, and Alexander Roslyakov in Donetsk, Russia, contributed to this report.

Comments

comments

The Associated Press

.

News

 
Sexual assault awareness campaign recognizes teens

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Mother, daughters killed in crash caused by wrong-way driver

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
New comic allows readers to ‘Carpe Diem’!

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Fire damages Woodland apartment

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Watering bans, conservation mandates on tap for regulators

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
A blessing of the bikes

By Fred Gladdis | From Page: A2

Capitol drive collects essentials for young lives

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Sunrise Rotarians honor student role models

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

Vet Med Large Animal Clinic has a new director

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B3

 
Party celebrates release of Lescroart’s new novel

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

Grace Valley hosts open house

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B3

 
Indoor Fun Fly comes to Woodland

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

Learn to use walking poles effectively

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

 
Davis families take a spin at the Loopalooza

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A7 | Gallery

Davis Municipal Fiber will give people a choice

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

 
Independent study enrollment underway

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

Faulkner featured at Poetry Night on Thursday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
Got bikes? Donate ‘em!

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

Sunset Rotary hosts Thursday-afternoon bingo

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

 
Winters agri-tour visits Four Winds Nursery

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

Fresh cherries at Sutter market

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
Pets of the week

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Speakers cancel for health reasons

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

 
Special KDRT broadcast celebrates Grateful Dead’s 50 years

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

Tour de Cluck participants can get here by train

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

 
Dance, dance, dance for a great cause

By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A10

Information offered on city tax refund program

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10

 
Monthly tour set at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

.

Forum

Think long and hard about our town’s future

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

 
Whom will our council represent?

By Michelle Millet | From Page: B4

Weeds pose a threat to pets

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

 
Is your bike waiting for you?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

Tips to reduce student stress

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

 
John Cole cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

New rule: No dough, no art

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Ready to cut her off

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

.

Sports

 
DHS celebrates Senior Day with a fun victory

By Chris Saur | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Visiting Eagles edge Blue Devils

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Majors roundup: Thompson, D’Angelo lead Brew Crew rally

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
UCD roundup: Aggies baseballers fall in 13 innings

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12

 
.

Features

.

Arts

Student filmmakers showcased at UCD Festival

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

 
Stellar acting brings home Capital Stage’s dark comedy

By Bev Sykes | From Page: A11 | Gallery

Student choreographers, dancers stage festival at UC Davis

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
From Bach to rock, Regal Beezers will entertain

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

.

Business

.

Obituaries

Emma Sallie Wing Hale

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

 
Robert Simpson Loomis

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

.

Comics

Comics: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 (set 1)

By Creator | From Page: B5

 
Comics: Tuesday, May 5, 2015 (set 2)

By Creator | From Page: B7