A convoy of trucks carrying what Russia characterized as humanitarian aid passes through Russia’s Voronezh region Tuesday. Russia dispatched some hundreds of trucks, although only a small proportion were counted in this convoy, covered in white tarps and sprinkled with holy water on a mission to deliver aid to a rebel-held zone in eastern Ukraine.
The televised sight of the miles-long convoy sparked a show of indignation from the government in Kiev, which insisted any aid must be delivered by the international Red Cross. Ukraine and the West have openly expressed its concern that Moscow intends to use the cover of a humanitarian operation to embark on a military incursion in support of pro-Russian separatists.
Amid those anxieties, Russian President Vladimir Putin today was set to travel to Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula Russia annexed in March, where he was to preside over a meeting involving the entire Russian Cabinet and most members of the lower house of parliament.
Putin has resisted calls from both pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine and nationalists at home to send Russian troops to back the mutiny, a move that would be certain to trigger devastating Western sanctions.
Dispatching the convoy sent a powerful visual symbol that helped the Kremlin counter criticism from nationalists who accuse Putin of betrayal.
— The Associated Press