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West condemns Russia over convoy to Ukraine

  • Drivers of the first trucks of the Russian aid convoy are parked in the city of Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, after more than a week's delay. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    Drivers of the first trucks of the Russian aid convoy are parked in the city of Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, after more than a week's delay. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • Drivers of the first trucks of the convoy seen in parking the city of Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014.  The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday after more than a week's delay. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    Drivers of the first trucks of the convoy seen in parking the city of Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday after more than a week's delay. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • Russian aid convoy trucks roll along the main road to Luhansk near the village of Khryaschevatoye, after it passed the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    Russian aid convoy trucks roll along the main road to Luhansk near the village of Khryaschevatoye, after it passed the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • Russian aid trucks of the convoy roll on the main road to Luhansk near the town of Sukhodolsk, after it passed the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, after more than a week's delay. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    Russian aid trucks of the convoy roll on the main road to Luhansk near the town of Sukhodolsk, after it passed the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, after more than a week's delay. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • The first trucks of the aid convoy pass the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    The first trucks of the aid convoy pass the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • The first trucks of the convoy roll on the main road to Luhansk near the village of Uralo-Kavkaz, after it passed the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    The first trucks of the convoy roll on the main road to Luhansk near the village of Uralo-Kavkaz, after it passed the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • A driver, left, and Russian custom service officers stand near trucks of the Russian aid convoy which are searched at a Russian inspection zone inside a border control point with Ukraine in the Russian town of Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks of the Russian aid convoy crossed the Ukrainian inspection zone Friday morning. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

    A driver, left, and Russian custom service officers stand near trucks of the Russian aid convoy which are searched at a Russian inspection zone inside a border control point with Ukraine in the Russian town of Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks of the Russian aid convoy crossed the Ukrainian inspection zone Friday morning. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

  • Trucks move towards a border control point with Ukraine in the Russian town of Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks of the Russian aid convoy crossed the Ukrainian inspection zone Friday morning. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

    Trucks move towards a border control point with Ukraine in the Russian town of Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks of the Russian aid convoy crossed the Ukrainian inspection zone Friday morning. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

  • Ukrainian border guards look at the first truck as it passes the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    Ukrainian border guards look at the first truck as it passes the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • Ukrainian people greet the first truck as it passes the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    Ukrainian people greet the first truck as it passes the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • A Russian border guard opens a gate into the Ukraine for the first trucks heading into the country from the Russian town of Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    A Russian border guard opens a gate into the Ukraine for the first trucks heading into the country from the Russian town of Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • Ukrainian border guards look at the first aid truck as it passes the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    Ukrainian border guards look at the first aid truck as it passes the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • The first trucks of convoy park prior to passing the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

    The first trucks of convoy park prior to passing the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

  • Drivers of the first trucks of the Russian aid convoy are parked in the city of Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, after more than a week's delay. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
  • Drivers of the first trucks of the convoy seen in parking the city of Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014.  The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday after more than a week's delay. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
  • Russian aid convoy trucks roll along the main road to Luhansk near the village of Khryaschevatoye, after it passed the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
  • Russian aid trucks of the convoy roll on the main road to Luhansk near the town of Sukhodolsk, after it passed the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, after more than a week's delay. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
  • The first trucks of the aid convoy pass the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
  • The first trucks of the convoy roll on the main road to Luhansk near the village of Uralo-Kavkaz, after it passed the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
  • A driver, left, and Russian custom service officers stand near trucks of the Russian aid convoy which are searched at a Russian inspection zone inside a border control point with Ukraine in the Russian town of Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks of the Russian aid convoy crossed the Ukrainian inspection zone Friday morning. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
  • Trucks move towards a border control point with Ukraine in the Russian town of Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks of the Russian aid convoy crossed the Ukrainian inspection zone Friday morning. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
  • Ukrainian border guards look at the first truck as it passes the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
  • Ukrainian people greet the first truck as it passes the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
  • A Russian border guard opens a gate into the Ukraine for the first trucks heading into the country from the Russian town of Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
  • Ukrainian border guards look at the first aid truck as it passes the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
  • The first trucks of convoy park prior to passing the border post at Izvaryne, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The first trucks in a Russian aid convoy crossed into eastern Ukraine on Friday, seemingly without Kiev's approval, after more than a week's delay amid suspicions the mission was being used as a cover for an invasion by Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalated sharply yesterday as Moscow sent more than 130 trucks rolling across the border in what it said was a mission to deliver humanitarian aid. Ukraine called it a “direct invasion,” and the U.S. and NATO condemned it as well.

In another ominous turn in the crisis, NATO said it has mounting evidence that Russian troops are operating inside Ukraine and launching artillery attacks from Ukrainian soil – significantly deeper involvement in the fighting than the West has previously alleged.

The trucks, part of a convoy of 260 vehicles, entered Ukraine without government permission after being held up at the border for a week amid fears that the mission was a Kremlin ploy to help the pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine.

By late afternoon, trucks had reached the city of Luhansk, whose war-reduced population of a quarter-million people has suffered under intense fighting over the past several weeks between Ukrainian forces and the separatists.

Russia said the white-tarped vehicles were carrying food, water, generators and sleeping bags.

Some of the trucks were opened to reporters a few days ago, and at least some of those items could be seen. But Associated Press journalists following the convoy across rough country roads heard the trucks’ contents rattling and sliding around yesterday, suggesting many vehicles were only partially loaded.

The arrival of the trucks instantly raised the stakes in the crisis: An attack on the convoy could give Russia a pretext to intervene more deeply in the war. And a pause in the fighting to allow the convoy safe passage could hamper further battlefield advances by Ukrainian forces, which have reported substantial inroads against the rebels over the past week.

In sending in the convoy, Russia said it had lost patience with Ukraine’s stalling tactics and claimed that soon “there will no longer be anyone left to help” in Luhansk, where weeks of heavy shelling have cut off power, water and phone service and made food scarce.

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