A huge Russian convoy of what Moscow claims to be trucks carrying tonnes of humanitarian aid left on Tuesday for eastern Ukraine, where the pro-Moscow separatists are falling at the hands of aggressive government forces.
But Kiev has said it would not allow the vehicles to cross its border due to the growing concern that Russia was using the pretext of 'humanitarian aid' to launch a military intervention.
This comes as Kiev and Western governments warned Russia – after the convoy of some 300 trucks of aid started moving from Moscow – that any attempt to turn the operation into a military intervention by stealth will not be tolerated.
Ukraine also laid out its condition that the aid material in the cargo will be reloaded onto other vehicles at the Ukrainian border.
"This cargo will be reloaded onto other transport vehicles (at the border) by the Red Cross," Ukkrainian presidential aid Valery Chaly told reporters, according to Reuters.
In its response, Russia said it would transfer the entire convoy to the aegis of the International Committee of the Red Cross, but did not comment on Kiev's demand that the goods be reloaded to other vehicles.
The European Union also expressed its concerns over the convoy and said that the goods being carried by the trucks will have to go through a verification.
"No political or any other objectives must be pursued," EU humanitarian aid commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said in a news conference. "The content of humanitarian aid must be exactly that, humanitarian aid, and obviously cannot be taken on face value."
According to Russian media, the convoy of about 280 trucks carrying essentials such as food, water and medical supply left from near Moscow and it would take a couple of days before the trucks cover the 1000 kms to reach the Ukraine's eastern regions where rebel fighters have been losing their stronghold.
The humanitarian mission was being carried out without any participation of the Russian military, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying earlier, but the activity comes as the Western governments, the European Union and the NATO has been warning Moscow not to use the pretext of humanitarian aid to invade Eastern Ukraine.