UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council on Friday held emergency consultations on the latest developments in eastern Ukraine -- the entry of a Russian humanitarian aid convoy - - but failed to reach an agreement on any action or even a statement to the press.
Lithuania formally requested the session after a Russian convoy carrying humanitarian aid entered Ukraine without Kiev's permission earlier in the day, coinciding with published reports which said NATO accused Russia of manning artillery positions in Ukraine to aid separatists in Ukraine.
"The Security Council just held consultations ... on the situation in eastern Ukraine and we received a briefing from Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, assistant secretary-general in DPA (Department for Political Affairs)," said Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant of Britain, this month's president of the council.
"In the subsequent discussion there was no unanimity of view as you might expect," he told reporters outside council chambers after the session, which lasted two and a quarter hours.
Acknowledging the East-West divide, he said: "Widespread concern was expressed at what many called an illegal and unilateral action by the Russian Federation," the council president said. "Russia defended its actions on the basis of humanitarian need and unreasonable Ukrainian behavior in holding up the aid convoy."
"Sometimes it reminded me of the Kingdom of Crooked Mirrors," said Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia the closed-door meeting of the 15-member council, referring to a Soviet fairy tale film which features a girl seeing her complete opposite in the mirror.
"Members of the council were not concerned about the fact that hundreds of civilians were dying," he said. "They were not concerned about the humanitarian catastrophe in eastern Ukraine. They were concerned about a humanitarian convoy, you know, humanitarian convoy."
Churkin said he reminded them Kiev had sent Moscow "official permission from the Ukrainian government and only after that we started moving."
In response to Kiev's fear that items such as weaponry or ammunition for the Russian separatists were contained in the humanitarian aid, the envoy said the convoy contained "originally 280 trucks, 69 generators, 400 tons of grain and cereals, 340 tons of canned meat, 30 tons of salt, 1,000 tons of sugar, 60 tons canned milk products, 80 kilograms of tea, around 679 tons of bottled water, over 62 tons of baby food, 54 tons of various medical supplies and over 12,000 sleeping bags."
He added that on Aug. 15 an "inspection by (international) journalists confirmed that there was no non-cargo on the trucks."
Following Russia's unilateral move, the ICRC tweeted that "the manner which aid convoy from Russia arrived in Lugansk today has complicated this aid operation."
Lyall Grant, speaking in his national capacity as ambassador of Britain, said his country "is deeply concerned about this provocative and unilateral action, an undeniable and blatant violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and a clear breach of international law and the UN charter."
"It has nothing to do with humanitarianism," he said. "That humanitarian effort is being coordinated by the United Nations and if the Russian Federation wanted to participate in that it could do so in a collective way rather than acting unilaterally."
"What has happened is a further example of the gap between Russian rhetoric and their action," the London envoy said. "They have said they would work with the Kiev authorities and under the aegis of the ICRC and then they went ahead and acted unilaterally. "
Ambassador Raimonda Mermokaite of Lithuania, one of the 10 non- permanent members on the council, said: "Everyone agrees that there is a need for humanitarian assistance for the IDP ( internally displaced persons) in Ukraine." "There are ongoing efforts in that regard actively supported by the international community, including the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Union and individual bi-lateral donors."
She said that despite Ukrainian Red Cross Society efforts it " may not be enough but work is being done on the ground and none of the donors have demanded special, exclusive, conditions to deliver aid or had problems with access.
"On the other hand, we have word that militants have refused to accept humanitarian aid from Ukrainian hands, thus preventing people of Eastern Ukraine, obtaining that aid," Mermokaite said. "While humanitarian efforts need to be stepped up .. humanitarian assistance should never be manipulated for political or military ends."
"My government condemned the entry of Russian convoy into Ukraine without consent of Ukrainian authorities and without any involvement of the ICRC as a blatant violation of international law," the ambassador said.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- The White House warned Russia on Friday that sending an aid convoy into eastern Ukraine without Kiev's approval would incur "additional consequences," while Russia insisted that further delay of Moscow's humanitarian mission would have been "unacceptable."Full story
BRUSSELS, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) on Friday deplored Russia decision to send humanitarian consignment into Ukrainian territory without escort of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) or consent of Ukrainian government as illegal.Full story
UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Friday urged all sides to exercise maximum restraint and avoid escalation amid reports of an escalation in the Ukrainian crisis.Full story