BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel said in two separate phone calls on Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko that she was concerned that a Russian humanitarian aid convoy crossed into Ukraine without permission, her spokesman Steffen Seibert said.
Seibert also said in a statement that Merkel had praised Ukraine’s prudent reaction after she said Russia risked exacerbating an already tense situation there. She also appealed for quick agreements on a ceasefire and territorial integrity.
“Chancellor Merkel expressed her great concern about the fact that the convoy had crossed the border without the approval of Ukraine, without accompanying by the Red Cross and in part without any previous inspection,” Seibert said in a statement.
“Russia thus knowingly risked escalating an already tense situation,” he added. “She praised the prudent Ukrainian reaction.”
Merkel also appealed for a speed agreement for a ceasefire and measures to ensure the integrity of international frontiers.
Poroshenko has described the entry of the trucks without Kiev’s permission as a “flagrant violation of international law.”
Russia denied breaching international law and the Kremlin said Putin told Merkel in their telephone call Russia could no longer wait for Kiev’s green light to help people in distress.
Earlier, the Kremlin said in a statement that Putin and Merkel had spoken on the phone and “discussed... certain steps that Russia and Germany could undertake in order to contribute to swift end to the fighting and establishment of an internal dialogue in Ukraine.”
Putin also told Merkel that Russia decided to send the humanitarian convoy into Ukraine, because it could no longer wait for Kiev to give the green light. He also expressed concern over escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin statement said.
Reporting By Erik Kirschbaum