Lorries, part of a Russian humanitarian convoy, are parked not far from a checkpoint at the Ukrainian border some 30 km outside the town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky in the Rostov region, yesterday. Tension between Moscow and Kiev is simmering over Russia's decision to try and deliver what it claims to be a huge humanitarian aid convoy that the Ukrainian authorities fear may be used to smuggle in arms to the pro-Kremlin insurgents. Photo: AFP
Ukraine yesterday accused pro-Russian rebels of shelling a convoy of civilians fleeing the war-torn east, leaving "many" dead, as crisis talks to halt months of bloodshed failed to make a breakthrough.
Kiev's military said "many people died, including women and children" when insurgents shot at residents escaping fierce fighting around the besieged separatist city of Lugansk with "Grad rocket launchers and mortar guns given by Russia."
The allegations came after a five-hour meeting between the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany broke up without agreement on how to end more than four months of conflict that has killed over 2,100 people and left the region facing a humanitarian catastrophe.
Moscow has demanded that Ukraine government forces halt an offensive against main separatist strongholds. Meanwhile Kiev accuses Russia of pouring in more arms to save the unravelling insurgency.
Russia's top diplomat Sergei Lavrov said the ministers would meet again and hoped that some agreement "on paper" was possible soon.
Ukraine's foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin said there had been "five hours of most difficult discussion" and suggested more meetings were needed "to move forward".
Meanwhile, a massive aid convoy sent from Moscow was still waiting to be checked near Ukraine's restive border as talks dragged on about allowing them to cross into rebel-held territory.
Kiev and the West fear the convoy could be a Russian ploy to prop up the ailing insurgency but Moscow insists it just wants to get desperately-needed aid to the stricken region.