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MOSCOW, February 27. /TASS/. A 16th truck convoy of the Russian Emergencies Ministry loaded with humanitarian aid has started off for war-torn Donbas, Oleg Voronov, the deputy chief of the ministry’s National Centre for Crisis Management, told TASS on Friday.
"At 04.00 a.m. Moscow Time over 170 trucks have left the Donskoy rescue centre [in the Russian southern Rostov region] and started moving towards the Russian border," Voronov said.
The trucks are due to deliver about 1,800 humanitarian cargoes to residents of the embattled Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Foodstuffs - canned meat, fish and dairy products, sugar, semolina, rice and buckwheat - constitute 80% of the relief aid, along with medicines, daily necessities, books and course books for school and college students in Donbas.
"On the way to the border the convoy is to divide into two parts," he said. "After crossing the customs and border control at the Donetsk border checkpoint, over 80 trucks will head for Lugansk and the same number of the trucks will continue their movement across the Matveyev Kurgan border checkpoint."
Voronov said that approximately equal proportions of the humanitarian cargoes would be delivered to both Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
"There should not emerge any disruptions in the convoy movement," he said. "The vehicles underwent technical supervision before the journey and are in order. The drivers know the route in detail but all the same, they have been instructed how to drive in extreme situations and in complicated traffic conditions."
The Russian Emergencies Ministry is dispatching the 16th humanitarian aid convoy since last August and it has delivered more than 20,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions since then.
Earlier, Russia’s Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov said, "The activity of the Russian Emergencies Ministry has allowed to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and save hundreds of lives of the elderly, women and children who needed support, and also stabilise the sanitary and epidemic situation."
The minister has said that all humanitarian operations his ministry was carrying out to provide assistance to people in the southeast of Ukraine were absolutely open and transparent.
"The Emergencies Ministry of Russia acts in strict compliance with the Geneva conventions and other international legal and regulatory acts," Puchkov said.
"We are absolutely open, all of our humanitarian operations are transparent. The Emergencies Ministry invariably invites international observers (for inspecting cargoes) and world mass media and specialists, who wish to exercise public control," he said adding the Russian Emergencies Ministry was acting with utmost tact in delivering relief supplies to Donbass.
"We cooperate with the Ukrainian Customs and border guards," he said.