LUHANSK, August 22. /ITAR-TASS/. All trucks from the Russian humanitarian convoy for southeastern Ukraine’s residents have arrived in the city of Lugansk in the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic, a city administration spokesman said Friday.
“Unloading of humanitarian cargoes has started. The cargoes will then be distributed among residents,” the spokesman said. He did not rule out that part of the aid will later be sent to the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.
The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry sent a convoy of 262 trucks with relief supplies for residents of the war-torn southeast of Ukraine on August 12. The cargo contains some 2,000 metric tons of humanitarian aid, including food (grain, sugar, baby food), medications, sleeping bags and portable power generators.
When the trucks were on the border, efforts to reach an agreement between Kiev, Moscow and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on specific terms of the convoy’s travel in Ukraine dragged on for too long, so Russia decided to send the trucks toward the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk.
The Lugansk administration representative said “a special commission will distribute the aid.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel by phone on Friday that further delay in the delivery of Russian humanitarian aid to Ukraine’s embattled southeastern regions was inadmissible, so Moscow ordered its humanitarian truck convoy to start its movement in Ukraine.
“We state once again: all required guarantees of humanitarian convoy passage security have been given,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier Friday. “The ICRC officially admitted the presence of such guarantees. The delivery routes are well-known and have been checked by the ICRC mission. The documents have been formalized.”
“The cargoes have long been ready for inspection by Ukrainian border guards and customs officials who have been at the Donetsk border-crossing point in the Rostov Region for a week,” the ministry said.
“New artificial demands and pretexts [on the part of Kiev] have become… intolerable. All pretexts for dragging on aid delivery to people in the humanitarian disaster area have been exhausted,” it said. “The Russian side has made the decision to act.”
Troops loyal to Kiev and local militias in the southeastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Lugansk regions are involved in fierce clashes as the Ukrainian armed forces are conducting a military operation to regain control over the breakaway territories, which on May 11 proclaimed their independence at local referendums and now call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics.
During the military operation, conducted since mid-April, Kiev has used armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation. Hundreds of civilians have been killed in it. Many buildings have been destroyed and hundreds of thousands of people have had to flee Ukraine’s embattled southeast.