Despite eyewitnesses seeing a column of Russian military vehicles crossing into Ukraine on Thursday that was reportedly attacked on Friday by the Ukrainian military, The White House released a statement saying it was “not currently in a position to confirm” this series of events.
“We are working to gather more information regarding reports that Ukraine’s security forces disabled vehicles in a Russian military convoy inside Ukraine. We are not currently in a position to confirm these reports,” National Security Council Spokesman Caitlyn Hayden said. “Even as we work to gather information, we reiterate our concern about repeated Russian and Russian-supported incursions into Ukraine. Russia has no right to send vehicles, persons, or cargo of any kind into Ukraine, under any pretext, without the Government of Ukraine’s permission.”
While the Russian government has dismissed claims its convoy was attacked as “fantasy,” Hayden went on to describe Russia’s actions as a threat to Ukraine’s stability.
“The escalation in Russian activity designed to destabilize Ukraine in recent weeks is extremely dangerous and provocative,” she said. “It includes supplying separatist fighters with tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery, and multiple rocket launchers (MRLs). Russia has also been firing artillery and rockets from Russian territory into Ukraine on a regular basis, and has been moving multiple-rocket launchers (MRLs) and surface-to-air missile systems (SAMs) across the border to fire on Ukrainian positions — including its newest air defence systems, the SA-22, into eastern Ukraine.”
Hayden concluded by urging Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop supporting the efforts of pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine.
“Yesterday, President Putin pledged to ‘do everything in (Russia’s) power’ to end the conflict in Ukraine. He can start by ending Russian firing into Ukraine; stopping its supply of weapons, support and cash to separatists; and closing the border to militants, including by facilitating an effective border monitoring mission under the auspices of the OSCE,” said Hayden.
Russia has said the convoy was filled with humanitarian aid supplies. Hayden implied it was not a “legitimate” humanitarian effort, since Moscow is not coordinating with the Red Cross. Further, the supposed humanitarian convoy was joined by armoured personnel carriers, anti-aircraft weapons, and helicopters, The Guardian’s Shaun Walker reported.
“The continued Russian military intervention into Ukraine is entirely at odds with legitimate efforts to provide humanitarian assistance and negotiate a peaceful resolution to the overall crisis,” Hayden said.
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