DAVYDO-MYKILSKE, Ukraine — Russia sent dozens of aid trucks into rebel-held eastern Ukraine on Friday without Kiev's approval, saying its patience had worn out with the Ukrainian government's stalling tactics. Ukraine called the move a "direct invasion."
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 in Kiev and separatist rebels in the east. Ukraine has long accused Russia of supporting and arming the rebels, a charge Russia denies.
The white-tarped semis said to be carrying food, water, generators and sleeping bags are intended to help civilians in the city of Luhansk, where government forces are besieging pro-Russian separatists. The city only 12 miles from the Russian border has seen weeks of heavy shelling that has cut off power, water and phone lines and has left food supplies scarce.
In the past few days, Ukraine says its troops have recaptured significant parts of Luhansk, the second-largest rebel-held city, and suspicions are 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.
Read Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.