After waiting more than a week on the border with Ukraine while the Kiev government's cooperation then condemnation switched several times, Moscow gave the green light for its humanitarian convoy of 280 trucks to enter war-torn Lugansk today. Civilians in breakaway areas of Ukraine have suffered without food and water for weeks and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) agreed that the situation was desperate.
As if in waiting, the moment Russian humanitarian aid crossed into Ukraine, NATO and US officials raced to condemn the action. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who just days ago falsely claimed that a Russian military convoy had entered Ukraine, was first out of the gate:
I condemn the entry of a Russian so-called humanitarian convoy into Ukrainian territory without the consent of the Ukrainian authorities and without any involvement of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Though the ICRC and the Russian Red Cross had supported and participated in the mission, they declined to accompany the aid convoy into Ukraine, citing ongoing fighting in the area and a lack of a force to protect the convoy and ICRC personnel. In other words, Rasmussen's own allies in Kiev had prevented ICRC involvement in the mission by their shelling of Lugansk. And the Ukrainian authorities had consented — several times — before they unconsented!
The Red Cross declined to accompany the convoy without a military escort, but the Russian government dropped plans to include a military escort due to Ukrainian opposition.
Several days ago western journalists were offered the opportunity to inspect any of the vehicles at random and none discovered the military Trojan horse that the Kiev government insisted was packed away in the vehicles. In fact, the journalists (even those from media outlets highly critical of Russia) found...humanitarian aid!
Ukrainian border guards also inspected the trucks and found no military equipment.
Nevertheless, despite fact that the humanitarian nature of the mission had been confirmed (and Kiev had again beem caught in a lie) the White House today described the convoy in terms that purposely suggested it was a military Trojan horse:
Today, in violation of its previous commitments and international law, Russian military vehicles painted to look like civilian trucks forced their way into Ukraine.
The type and color of vehicles matter more than the contents?
The White House then repeated what will be the dominant theme in US press reports tonight about the incident:
Russia’s decision today to send in its vehicles and personnel without the ICRC and without the express permission of the Ukrainian authorities only amplifies international concerns about Russia’s true intentions.
Not a word on why the ICRC would not accompany the convoy: shells fired by US allies in Kiev. Not a word about how many times Kiev had agreed to the aid and then changed its mind. That is called propaganda and manipulation.
NATO's Rasmussen went on to again claim — unsubstantiated again — that:
Russian artillery support — both cross-border and from within Ukraine — is being employed against the Ukrainian armed forces.
Russian ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, flatly denied NATO claims of Russian troops and artillery crossing into Ukraine.
The irony of US condemnation hangs heavy in a week where the US has increased its bombing runs over Iraq in the name of humanitarianism, has openly discussed the need to bomb Syria, and has increased its support for the government in Kiev responsible for the shelling of civilians in eastern Ukraine.
As one observer remarked:
NATO is now delivering military aid to the Ukraine regime bombing its own cities full of people, while condemning Russia for delivering humanitarian aid (to the victims).
Ukraine is referring to the humanitarian mission as a "Russia invasion." Rhetoric esclates, tension mounts.