FORT MEADE, Md., Aug. 22, 2014 —
Defense Department officials are concerned about a Russian convoy crossing into Ukraine, and urge Russian officials to turn the convoy around.
“We strongly condemn this action and any actions that Russian forces take that increase tensions in the region,” Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters today.
“Russia should not send vehicles, persons or cargo of any kind into Ukraine, whether under the guise of humanitarian convoys or any other pretext, without Kyiv’s express permission,” the admiral said.
Kirby called the convoy a violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Russia must recall its vehicles and personnel, he said.
“Failure to do so will result in additional costs and isolation,” the admiral said.
U.S. officials are speaking with officials of the International Red Cross and partner nations on the next steps, Kirby said.
The convoy moving into Ukraine follows a conversation that Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu had with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Kirby said. Shoygu assured Hagel “that there would be no military intervention using the pretext of humanitarian relief and, in fact, assured us that there would be no military members as a part of this humanitarian convoy,” the admiral said.
Russia should not be using the guise of a humanitarian convoy to cross the border into Ukraine in a non-authorized way, Kirby said.
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @garamoneDoDNews)