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Ukraine calls Russian aid convoy a ‘direct invasion’

Updated at 12:30 p.m. EDT with NATO statement:

Russia went ahead without Ukrainian permission to send dozens of aid trucks into eastern Ukraine on Friday. Ukraine called the move a “direct invasion.”

Russia said the trucks are carrying food, water, generators and sleeping bags for residents of Luhansk, where Ukrainian government forces are fighting pro-Russia separatists. But Ukrainian security services chief Valentyn Nalyvaichenko said the men driving the trucks were Russian military personnel, and the vehicles could be used to transport weapons to rebels.

He called the convoy a “direct invasion.”

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen criticized the use of the convoy as “a blatant breach of Russia’s international commitments” in a statement issued Friday. He said the development “was even more worrying as they coincide with a major escalation in Russian military involvement in Eastern Ukraine since mid-August, including the use of Russian forces.  In addition, Russian artillery support — both cross-border and from within Ukraine — is being employed against the Ukrainian armed forces.”

Heavy shelling has cut off power, water and phone lines, and limited food supplies in Luhansk, according to the Associated Press.

The International Committee of the Red Cross had planned to accompany the convoy, but the group said it had not received enough security guarantees on Friday.

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