MOSCOW, August 14 (RIA Novosti) — The assumption that Russia's humanitarian aid cargo for eastern Ukraine may carry something more dangerous than food, medicine and water "look paranoid," deems Simon Shuster, a TIME correspondent.
"The goal of this convoy, though likely a lot more complicated than simple humanitarian aid, has more to do with domestic Russian politics than military strategy … All the Western warnings of a Russian Trojan horse … start to look a bit paranoid," Shuster emphasized in his article "Putin Calls Western Bluff With Humanitarian Convoy Stunt."
The author, an outspoken critic of Russia's political course, argues that while most of the time the West’s deep distrust of Russia has been right, "the humanitarian convoy appears to be one of the few exceptions to the rule." Russia may accuse the West of bluffing, he notes, citing Matthew Rojansky, an expert on Russia and Ukraine at the Wilson Center in Washington. "It allows him [Vladimir Putin] to call the West’s bluff. He is calling out this hyperbolic position that everything Russia does is aggressive and counterproductive," explains Mr. Rojansky.
Indeed, the groundless accusations made by NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Samantha Power, the American ambassador to the UN, deserve the epithet "paranoid", as it the journalist calls. Experts point out, that Mr. Rasmussen has been beating the war drum since the very beginning of the standoff in Ukraine in order to increase the EU's military spending on extremely expensive NATO projects. As Russia has not yet demonstrated any signs of preparations for the invasion of Ukraine, NATO chief hastened to call Russia's humanitarian aid to eastern Ukraine a plausible "pretext" for Russia's military intervention.
"We see the Russians developing the narrative and the pretext for such an operation under the guise of a humanitarian operation and we see a military buildup that could be used to conduct such illegal military operations in Ukraine," he said as cited by Reuters.
US Ambassador Samantha Power also stressed that Russia's proposal for a "humanitarian corridor" was "completely unacceptable and deeply alarming — and it would be viewed as an invasion of Ukraine," the Associated Press reported.
It should be noted that according to the UN Refugee Agency report, there are more than 117 000 civilians displaced inside Ukraine, while about 168 677 have already crossed into Russia this year. Up to 87 percent of the total displaced population consists of eastern Ukrainian civilians, suffering from heavy bombardment by Kiev. At the same time the Ukrainian leadership didn't provide sufficient assistance to tens of thousands of destitute civilians, stressed a Human Rights Watch representative in his official letter to Petr Poroshenko, published in July, 2014.
Russia had accepted all Kiev's conditions of the humanitarian cargo transfer, including "the route, the choice of a border crossing near Kharkiv, the use of Ukrainian license plates once across the border, and the presence on the trucks of not only international monitors but representatives of the Ukrainian government as well … with the logistics left to the Red Cross," according to The New York Times.
Surprisingly, the next day the Ukrainian authorities announced that they would not allow the trucks' convoy entry. Moreover, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov called Russia's goodwill gesture the "provocations of a cynical aggressor" in a statement published on his Facebook page.
This would play right into Moscow's hands, according to Simon Shuster: while "on the one side would be the Russian convoy waiting to provide assistance to the victims of war, … on the other would be the Ukrainian military trying to block it."
The question remains open whether tens of thousands of destitute Ukrainians should suffer from Kiev's political ambitions and the western obsessive phobias. The TIME correspondent underlines that the West runs a risk to compromise itself with its concerns about the Russian Trojan Horse looking unjustifiably overblown.