Ukraine leader: Russia plotting "direct invasion"

A Russian convoy of trucks carrying humanitarian aid for Ukraine travels along a road south of the city of Voronezh, Aug. 14, 2014. REUTERS

KIEV, Ukraine -- A convoy of more than 260 Russian trucks, painted white and carrying a mysterious cargo of what Moscow says is humanitarian supplies, suddenly changed course Thursday morning. The trucks had been on the road to the Kharkiv region of eastern Ukraine, for inspection by International Red Cross and Ukrainian officials.

Kharkiv is under Ukrainian government control. But without warning or explanation, they changed direction and headed south. Some Ukrainian officials believe it's an attempt by Moscow to get tons of supplies -- possibly weapons -- into territory south of Kharkiv controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

It's an area that has seen heavy fighting over the last three days and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is accusing Moscow of planning a "direct invasion" under the guise of delivering humanitarian assistance.

Other officials believe Russia is trying to re-supply rebels. But no one in Kiev really knows what's on those trucks, and neither does the International Red Cross. The group was planning to send a senior official to Kiev and Moscow to try to reach an agreement on border crossing procedures and customs clearance.

Kiev said it would also send humanitarian aid to the region. Neither country has explained how it plans to move the supplies in to an active war zone.

The U.N.'s human rights office said Wednesday the death toll from the fighting in just the past two weeks had gone over 2,000 people. That number, which it calls conservative, includes soldiers, separatists and civilians.

As the convoy made its way toward the Ukrainian border, Russian President Vladimir Putin was spending his second day in Crimea, which Russia seized in March. He brought his entire cabinet and many Russian lawmakers with him.

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But the broadcast of a speech the Russian leader was to deliver in the Crimean parliament was abruptly cancelled Thursday morning.

The Russian government said it was always meant to be a private discussion with Crimean leaders to map out ways of bolstering the economy "in the new territory," which has been hard-hit by a lack of tourists this summer, from Ukraine or anywhere else.

Meanwhile, the Twitter account of Putin's No. 2, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, was hacked on Thursday morning.

One of the fake tweets announced Medvedev's resignation, claiming he was "ashamed by the government actions. Forgive me."

At first, it wasn't clear whether the words might actually be from Medvedev. They perplexed even veteran Kremlin-watchers, with former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul re-tweeting the message and asking, "wow. Is this a fake?"

Though the Russian Foreign Ministry quickly put out a statement that the tweets were not authentic, it took Russian government officials more than an hour to reclaim the site and delete the earlier comments.

An anti-Kremlin Russian hacking group reportedly claimed responsibility for the hacking into Medvedev's account in a message posted to its own Twitter feed later Thursday morning.

  • Cami McCormick

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