On Monday, Russia announced that it would be sending another batch of "aid" trucks to resupply rebel-held cities in eastern Ukraine with unknown goods. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Russia has made its intentions known to Ukrainian officials. From the AP report:
Lavrov also said the food, water and other goods delivered to the hard-hit rebel city of Luhansk by the first convoy were being distributed Monday with the participation of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Almost too-perfectly, the report added:
There was no immediate confirmation of that by the Red Cross.
As we noted earlier, the inaugural convoy of white mystery trucks breached Ukrainian territory on Friday, raising alarms and accusations that Russia had invaded Ukraine by sending the convoy without the Red Cross and seemingly without notice. The trucks returned to Russian on Saturday without incident.
The humanitarian situation in rebel-held cities has grown dire after weeks without power, running water, and limited food. For Ukraine, at least two fears about the trucks remain: what's actually inside the trucks and how the arrival of the trucks impact the country's efforts to stamp out the months-long rebel insurgency without allowing the rebels a strategic pause.
In related news, Reuters added that clashes near the Russian-Ukrainian border signaled a new offensive by the pro-Russian separatists.
The new military thrust by the rebels, which a pro-government militia commander said might be aimed at capturing the government-held port city of Mariupul, appeared to open up a new southern front in the five-month conflict in Ukraine's east.
A commander of a Ukrainian national guard unit reportedly said "A war has broken out here" and spoke of shelling from across the border in Russia.
According to the Washington Post, Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko raised the ante, saying that not only were rebels active on a new front, but that Russian had sent tanks across the border:
He said at least 10 tanks, two armored vehicles and two trucks crossed at 5:20 a.m. Monday. The highway leading to the key port city of Mariupol is currently under control of the Ukrainian military, he said.
The claim has yet to be independently confirmed.