NATO accuses Russia of escalating Ukraine tension

NATO accuses Russia of escalating Ukraine tension

NATO accuses Russia of escalating Ukraine tension

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen answers questions at a press conference. AP Photo

NATO accused the Kremlin on Aug. 15 of escalating the conflict in Ukraine, confirming an incursion by Russian armored vehicles into violence-ridden country.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the incursion showed Moscow’s continued efforts to “destabilize” its western neighbor. “I can confirm that last night we saw a Russian incursion, crossing of the Ukrainian border,” Rasmussen told journalists in Copenhagen after meeting with the Danish defense minister.

Ukraine had earlier said that a column of armored personnel carriers and military lorries had crossed into Ukrainian territory on Aug. 14.

“It just confirms the fact that we see a continued flow of weapons and fighters from Russia into the eastern Ukraine,” Rasmussen said. “It is a clear demonstration of continued Russian involvement in the destabilization of eastern Ukraine.”

Western worries about Russian intervention in eastern Ukraine had focused on a huge convoy that Moscow said was taking humanitarian supplies to Ukrainian civilians.

Some European officials had said the convoy could be a cover for a Russian military incursion, though Moscow dismissed that.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said an agreement had been reached for a Russian humanitarian aid delivery to eastern Ukraine and he hoped it would pave the way for a cease-fire between the government and pro-Russian militias there.

“We heard the news today that this humanitarian mission from Russia will now go forward and an agreement has been reached on the humanitarian delivery among Ukraine, Russia and the Red Cross,” Niinisto said, speaking via a translator, after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin at his resident in Sochi.  

The convoy of some 280 trucks stopped in open fields near the Russian town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky, about 20 kilometers from the border in front of Izvaryne, which is under the control of pro-Russian separatists.

Russia says it needs to get the supplies urgently to people in the rebel-held cities of Luhansk and Donetsk. In Luhansk, people have been without running water and electricity for several days.