Several dozen trucks in the Russian humanitarian convoy have crossed the Ukrainian border and started moving in the direction of Lugansk, after Moscow ordered the convoy to proceed, without waiting for further permission from Kiev.
Moscow 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.
“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.”
A third of the Russian humanitarian convoy, which is around 90 trucks, has now reportedly crossed the border with Ukraine.
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 told RT. “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 organization supported the decision to get the humanitarian convoy moving.
The Ukrainian Border Service has said that by ordering the convoy to proceed Moscow has “ignored the agreements reached on registering the humanitarian load.”
“The trucks started moving through Ukraine, after a group of Ukrainian border customs’ officers had been blocked at the Russian check-point ‘Donetsk’,” a statement by the Ukrainian Border Service reads.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said the “excuses” for delaying the aid from entering Ukraine have been “exhausted”.
Ukraine agreed to let the convoy pass during an August 20 phone call between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers. That gave a start to customs procedures for checking and registering the contents of the trucks comprising the convoy.
The next day the process was stopped by Ukraine, citing intensified shelling of Lugansk.
“In other words Ukrainian authorities are bombing the place of the aid’s point of destination and cite this as a reason for banning delivery of the aid,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
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.
“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.
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