US urges border check for Russia aid convoy

Washington - The United States on Tuesday backed Ukraine's demand for a Russian convoy to go through border checks to clear up concerns that Moscow is seeking to support rebels.

The United States and its European allies have been voicing concern for days over a convoy of 262 Russian trucks headed toward the Ukrainian border, which the Kremlin insists is desperately needed humanitarian assistance in the conflict zone.

After consultations with Kiev, the United States is ready to support the convoy if it goes through customs checks and hands over the aid to the International Committee of the Red Cross for distribution.

"Russia has no right to move into Ukraine unilaterally, whether under the guise of humanitarian convoys or any other pretext, without Kiev's permission," State Department spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters.

Ukrainian officials "have a plan in place that they feel comfortable with. We feel comfortable with it as well. And now the Russians need to deliver," Harf said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Moscow is sending the aid in response to the "catastrophic consequences" of Kiev's campaign against pro-Russian insurgents.

The United States rejected such views, with Harf saying that the humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine was "a direct result of Russia's intervention".

Over 1 300 people have been killed in four months of what the Red Cross has already deemed a civil war, while 285 000 have fled their homes, according to the United Nations.