Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird calls Russian incursion into Ukraine “deeply troubling”

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

We may be seeing an escalation in the ongoing dispute in Ukraine.

On Friday, according to Reuters, Ukrainian officials claimed that they destroyed part of a Russian armored column that entered its territory overnight.

While Russian officials deny the story, multiple media reports suggested that their had been an incursion.

"The Telegraph witnessed a column of vehicles including both armoured personal carriers and soft-skinned lorries crossing into Ukraine at an obscure border crossing near the Russian town of Donetsk shortly before 10pm local time," noted the UK's Telegraph newspaper.

"The convoy, which included at least 23 vehicles, appeared to be waiting until sunset near a refugee camp just outside Donetsk, before moving towards the crossing without turning off headlights or making any other attempt to conceal itself.

"While the force did not seem to be a substantial invasion force, it confirms that military supplies are moving across the border."

On Friday morning, NATO also confirmed that report.

"It just confirms the fact that we see a continuous flow of weapons and fighters from Russia into eastern Ukraine and it is a clear demonstration of continued Russian involvement in the destabilization of eastern Ukraine," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, according to the Reuters.

[ Related: Russian aid convoy checked; military vehicles mass near Ukraine ]

At a media availability on Friday afternoon, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird chided Russia for its latest provocation.

"Reports this morning that Russian forces have made an incursion into Ukraine are deeply troubling, and we condemn them in the strongest terms," he said.

"If in fact these reports are true, it is further confirmation of what we have long known: despite public declarations in favour of peace, Russia continues to fuel the violence in Ukraine through material support to the pro-Russian insurgents.

This story comes during the same week that Russia purporting to send a 280-truck convey of humanitarian aid to the cities of Luhansk and Donestsk, two regions which have bared the brunt of fighting between Ukrainian forces and the Russian-backed separatists.

The convoy -- supposedly carrying aid supplies, food and water -- is currently being inspected.

Baird notes however that, for Moscow to send military supplies into Ukraine in the dark while at the same time offering humanitarian aid "illustrates the cynicism and duplicity of Russia’s actions and statements on Ukraine."

"We will continue to work with our partners and allies to make clear to Moscow that its ongoing fuelling of the violence and its continued failure to match words with deeds will result in further costs on the Russian Federation," Baird said.

"Any Russian move into Ukraine without the permission of the government would be an illegal and dangerous escalation."

The Harper government also announced, on Friday, that they would send a third plane of non-lethal military supplies to Ukraine.

According to CBC News, the shipment will help bolster the Ukrainians' efforts to secure their eastern border.

(Photo courtesy of Reuters)

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