Berlin: The leaders of the US and Europe have warned Russia against sending a humanitarian mission to eastern Ukraine calling it "unjustified and illegal" and said international community would impose tougher sanctions if it continues to do so.
US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed during phone calls yesterday that any Russian intervention, "even under purported humanitarian auspices," without the agreement and authorisation of the Ukrainian government, will be unacceptable and will provoke additional consequences, the White House said in a statement.
The US and European leaders reiterated that they will continue to urge Russia to engage with the international community and the Ukrainian government to find a political solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the statement said.
In Berlin, the German Press Office said Russia`s plan to send a humanitarian convoy to eastern Ukraine was at the centre of the discussions between Obama and Merkel.
They agreed that any humanitarian mission to eastern Ukraine should be sent only under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and with the approval of the Ukrainian government.
The British prime minister`s office in London said Obama and Cameron expressed grave concern about reports that Russian military vehicles have crossed the border into Ukraine and that Russian armed forces are exercising a humanitarian intervention.
"Obama and Cameron are absolutely clear that such a humanitarian mission would be `unjustified and illegal`," it said.
Obama and Cameron shared the view that there are already a number of international aid agencies providing appropriate assistance on the ground in eastern Ukraine and they urged Russia to desist from such a move.
They agreed that the international community should impose further, tougher sanctions if Russia pursues such action.
Their warning came amid reports that Russia is planning to send troops to eastern Ukraine to support pro-Russian separatists, who have been losing ground to the government forces attempting to retake control over the areas held by the rebels since April.