RUSSIA has accused Kiev of deliberately holding up the delivery of Russian humanitarian aid to the Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine, according to a new statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The ministry says Russia has ordered its 280-lorry aid convoy to proceed, without waiting for further permission. The first set of 90 trucks carrying humanitarian aid has left the Isvarino check-point and is moving along the territory of Ukraine towards Lugansk.
Russian customs officers have started to get the second set of trucks, consisting of 34 vehicles, ready to cross the border, according to local customs officials. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is not escorting the convoy.
‘That’s because of the problems with security,’ Galina Balzamova of the ICRC said. ‘Lugansk was shelled all night long. We believe we did not get sufficient guarantees of safety from all the parties to the conflict to start escorting the convoy.’
The head of the Russian Red Cross, Raisa Lukutsova, has said the organisation supported the decision to get the humanitarian convoy moving. The Russian Foreign Ministry said the ‘excuses’ for delaying the aid from entering Ukraine have been ‘exhausted’.
A convoy of 280 Kamaz trucks carrying food, medicines and other essentials for Lugansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine left the Moscow region on August 12. It has been stuck at the border with Ukraine for more than a week.
‘Our convoy with humanitarian aid is starting to move in the direction of Lugansk,’ the Foreign Ministry”s statement reads. ‘We are of course ready for it to be accompanied by Red Cross representatives and for their participation in the aid’s distribution.’
‘There’s a feeling that the current Ukrainian authorities have been consciously putting the humanitarian aid delivery on hold to arrive at a situation where there’ll be just no one left to get it,’ the Ministry’s statement reads. It is normally a drive of about two hours from the lorries’ camp to the city of Luhansk.
‘We are warning against any attempts to sabotage this purely humanitarian mission, which was prepared a long time ago, in an atmosphere of full transparency and in co-operation with the Ukrainian side and the ICRC,’ the Russian foreign ministry said.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is due to meet Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin next week