Kiev, Ukraine (CNN) — What Russia calls a humanitarian convoy into eastern Ukraine was criticized by NATO, the United States and Ukraine itself on Friday as a guise for violating its neighbor’s sovereignty.
Russia diverted 34 trucks from an aid convoy into eastern Ukraine after Russian and Ukrainian customs officials cleared them under the assumption that the International Committee of the Red Cross would be with them, the Ukrainian military said.
But the Red Cross said it was no longer with the convoy because of the “volatile security situation,” a reference to fighting between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian forces. This was a violation of the deal between the two countries that any humanitarian convoy must be monitored by the Red Cross.
In total, at least 134 Russian vehicles in the aid convoy had entered Ukraine as of 2:20 p.m., according to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which has an observer mission at the checkpoint the convoy is passing through.
The unaccompanied trucks effectively constitute a Russian invasion of Ukraine, said Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, the head of Ukraine’s security service.
“We call this a direct invasion for the first time under cynical cover of the Red Cross,” Nalyvaychenko said Friday.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen referred to the movement as a “so-called humanitarian convoy.”
“It can only deepen the crisis in the region, which Russia itself has created and has continued to fuel,” he said in a statement. “The disregard of international humanitarian principles raises further questions about whether the true purpose of the aid convoy is to support civilians or to resupply armed separatists.”