PARIS: France warned on Tuesday that any Russian humanitarian aid convoy bound for eastern Ukraine could be a pretext for a covert operation and stressed that Ukraine and the Red Cross must first give the green light to the mission.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told French radio that such missions were "only possible with the agreement of the country to which you are sending aid and with the assistance of the Red Cross."
"This question has of course not yet been settled. We have to be extremely careful because this could be a cover by the Russians to set themselves up near Donetsk and Lugansk and declare a fait accompli," added Fabius.
He stressed that any aid operation "is only possible and only justifiable if the Red Cross gives its consent, if there are no military forces around (the mission), if there are not just Russians but other countries and if Ukraine agrees."
"At this precise moment, this is not the case," he said on Tuesday morning, adding that convoys "should not be allowed to pass" if these conditions were not met, without specifying how they would be stopped.
Some 280 trucks carrying 2,000 tonnes of humanitarian supplies are already on their way to the Ukraine border, a Moscow region official told the Ria Novosti news agency on Tuesday.
It was unclear if Fabius was referring to this convoy of aid trucks.