WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- Most of "the Russian military trucks" had returned to Russia after entering Ukraine "unlawfully" on Friday to deliver humanitarian aid to a rebel-held region in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden on Saturday.
In a phone conversation with Poroshenko, Biden commended Ukraine for its restraint "in the face of Russia's blatant provocation and disregard of Ukraine's sovereignty," the White House said in a statement.
Kiev called it "a direct invasion" for Moscow to move its 280- truck convoy into Ukraine without the country's consent and the escort of International Committee of the Red Cross.
Washington and its allies, fearful of an invasion of Ukraine by Moscow, condemned the move as "a further provocation and a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
Russia said it was a result of intolerance of Kiev's deliberate delay. Further delay of Moscow's humanitarian mission would have been "unacceptable," Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the phone on Friday.
Eastern Ukraine is undergoing a humanitarian crisis as clashes between Ukrainian government troops and pro-independence rebels have continued for months and claimed more than 2,000 lives.
The Russian humanitarian convoy had returned to Russia after delivering aid to Ukraine's conflict-hit Lugansk region, Russian media reported Saturday, quoting Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
In his phone call with Biden, Poroshenko also expressed concern about "continued Russian military activity," including the firing of artillery directly into the Ukrainian town of Novoazovsk.
Biden said the United States would continue working with its Group of Seven partners to respond to Russia's "destabilizing actions" in Ukraine.
Washington and its European allies have hit Moscow with rounds of sanctions, including measures against its financial and energy sectors.
Russia says aid convoy to Ukraine returns home empty
MOSCOW, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- Russia said Saturday the humanitarian aid convoy to Ukraine had returned to homeland empty- loaded, refuting Kiev's allegation of it taking goods back.
"Their saying is perplexing, because both Ukrainian and Russian border guards and customs staff have checked all the vehicles," spokesman for the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry, Alexander Drobyshevsky, told reporters. Full story
Poroshenko, Merkel discuss Ukraine crisis
KIEV, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday discussed the Ukraine crisis, the presidential press service said.
Noting that Ukraine is going through "an extremely tragic" period of its history, Poroshenko expressed appreciation for Germany's support to help Ukraine move towards peace, the press service said in a statement. Full story