NATO: Russia violating Ukraine border with trucks, artillery, special ops forces
It’s going to be a tough weekend for the tinfoil-hat crowd and Putin apologists, who had just about convinced themselves the Russian violations of Ukrainian territorial integrity reported last week weren’t happening. The New York Times relates that yes indeed, there have been artillery exchanges between Russian and Ukrainian forces, and NATO has seen other signs of “a significant escalation of the Kremlin’s involvement in the fighting.”
Since mid-August NATO has received multiple reports of the direct involvement of Russian forces, “including Russian airborne, air defense and special operations forces in Eastern Ukraine,” said Oana Lungescu, a spokeswoman for NATO.
“Russian artillery support — both cross-border and from within Ukraine — is being employed against the Ukrainian armed forces,” she added.
Remember that convoy of 260 or so Russian trucks supposedly bringing “humanitarian aid” to areas devastated by fighting between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces? They decided they didn’t want to wait for Red Cross certification or approval from Kiev any more, and went roaring across the border illegally. Under American liberal doctrine, this means the Russian troops driving those trucks are Ukraine’s children now, and must be given amnesty plus welfare benefits immediately.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen reacted angrily to the Russian border incursion:
“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,” Mr. Rasmussen’s statement said.
“These developments are even more worrying as they coincide with a major escalation in Russian military involvement in Eastern Ukraine since mid-August, including the use of Russian forces,” the statement continued, adding: “We have also seen transfers of large quantities of advanced weapons, including tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery to separatist groups in Eastern Ukraine. Moreover, NATO is observing an alarming buildup of Russian ground and air forces in the vicinity of Ukraine.”
According to Reuters, the Pentagon isn’t happy, either:
Moscow, which has thousands of troops close to the Russian side of the border, warned against any attempt to “disrupt” what it said was a purely humanitarian operation; it did not say what action it might take if the Ukrainian military intervened.
The U.S. Pentagon press secretary accused Russia of violating Ukraine’s sovereignty. “Russia must remove its vehicles and its personnel from the territory of Ukraine immediately. Failure to do so will result in additional costs and isolation,” Rear Admiral John Kirby said in Washington.
The United States and European Union have already imposed economic sanctions on Moscow and the Kremlin has retaliated; NATO has deployed extra troops in member states bordering Russia, including the Baltic states and Poland.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko described the entry of the trucks without Kiev’s permission as a “flagrant violation of international law.” But a senior security chief said Ukrainian forces would let them pass to avoid “provocations”.
Kiev called on international allies to unite in “a decisive condemnation of illegal and aggressive actions” by Russia.
Inspection of the trucks’ cargo had not been completed, so there’s no telling what they’re actually carrying, although quite a few of them were found to be “largely empty.” Even so, the Russian vehicles can still have great tactical significance, if parked near rebel positions. The Russians can use any Ukrainian fire that comes near their convoy as a pretext for whatever they want to do next. The separatists desperately needed a breather, as they were not doing very well against government forces.
“We consider this a direct invasion by Russia of Ukraine,” Ukrainian state security chief Valentyn Nalivaychenko said in a statement to journalists.
Asked whether Ukraine would use air strikes against the convoy, Nalivaychenko said: “Against them, no.”
But Ukrainian authorities said the convoy would pass through an area where the rebels were firing so its security could not be guaranteed. Interfax news agency said later that the first trucks had reached rebel-held Luhansk.
They should have put up a road sign in Russian to alert the truck drivers: CAUTION – YOU ARE DRIVING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY.
Or maybe: NO PARKING ALLOWED 9AM – 5PM IF YOU HAVE NO PLACE IN THE 21ST CENTURY.
No word yet on whether President Obama will allow this to interrupt the intensive golf therapy he’s been undergoing to manage his grief over the beheading of an American journalist by the Islamic State. Why do you have to throw even more on Obama’s plate, Vladimir Putin? Can’t you see the poor man is in agony?