EU condemns Russia convoy entering Ukraine, urges Moscow to reverse decision

Reuters

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Russia's decision to send a convoy of aid trucks across the border into eastern Ukraine without Kiev's consent or an escort of international observers is a clear violation of Ukraine's border, the EU's foreign policy chief's office said on Friday.

"This is a clear violation of the Ukrainian border. This also goes counter to the previous arrangements reached between Ukraine, Russia and the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross)," Sebastien Brabant, spokesman for the European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said.

"We urge Russia to reverse its decision."

Ukraine said Russia had launched a "direct invasion" of its territory, while Moscow warned against any attempt to disrupt the convoy which it said was a purely humanitarian operation.

The EU said it commended Kiev's restraint and readiness for talks to avoid a further escalation of the crisis, adding Russia's humanitarian assistance should be channelled in full respect of international law and agreements with Ukraine.

"This notably entails sending all necessary details concerning the aid and the provision of security guarantees for the ICRC staff and vehicles for the entire duration of the operation, since the ICRC does not accept armed escorts," Brabant added.

(Reporting by Martin Santa and Julia Fioretti; Editing by Alison Williams)

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