“We have agreed to the route that is comfortable to the Kiev authorities. We have agreed to have Ukrainian license plates on our trucks during their movement in Ukraine,” he said. “We have agreed to take on not only representatives of the ICRC and the OSCE aboard the trucks but also representatives of the Ukrainian authorities.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the Russian foreign ministry said that relief aid would be delivered to Ukraine via the Shebekino-Pletnevka checkpoint at the border between Russia’s Belgorod and Ukraine’s Kharkov regions. After crossing the Russian-Ukrainian border, the humanitarian convoy will proceed under supervision if the ICRC.
Lavrov confirmed that the convoy had been sent to Ukraine. It would be met by ICRC representatives at the border with Ukraine at a point agreed with the Kiev authorities. ICRC representatives would examine the cargoes and accompany them to their destinations, primarily in the Lugansk region.
Lavrov also said Ukraine had decided against reloading relief supplies from the Russian humanitarian convoy after its examination on the border. In his words, this idea had been proposed during the talks but then rejected.
“They insisted on reloading the cargo from all 287 trucks to the trucks to be provided by the ICRC but eventually gave it up for obvious reasons as this would have made the humanitarian mission more complicated and costlier,” Lavrov said, adding that the Ukrainian authorities had guaranteed security of the convoy on territories controlled by them. He noted that the Russian side hoped for similar guarantees from self-defence forces.
“We rely on the Ukrainian authorities’ pledges to guarantee security of the convoy on territories controlled by the Kiev military,” he said. Lavrov noted that self-defence forces had been notified about the route of the convoy and expressed the hope they would also take measures to ensure its security.
“We expect the self-defence forces to show appropriate attitude to this humanitarian action. Corresponding signal have already been sent to them. I am sure they will not wreck the operation - they are on the territory where people badly need this humanitarian aid,” Lavrov stressed.
He noted that representatives of the Kiev authorities had tried to raise the issue of additional conditions for the humanitarian deliveries. He said he hoped such statements would be “disavowed and would not impede the implementation of agreements reached between Russia, Ukraine and the ICRC.”
On Tuesday, the Russian foreign minister Sergei had a telephone conversation with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier and called to use all possibilities to facilitate the humanitarian action in eastern Ukraine. The conversation was initiated by the German side.
The two ministers discussed the development of the situation in Ukraine, with special focus on further deterioration of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine’s southeastern regions, which was fraught with catastrophic consequences to civilian population of these regions.
In this context, Lavrov stressed the necessity of urgent delivery of humanitarian aid to the conflict zone.
The Russian minister called on Steinmeier to use all possibilities to help carry out this humanitarian action in line with the existing agreements and not let them be wrecked.
The convoy will be comprised of 262 vehicles, including 198 truck with material means and electricity generators with an overall weigh of 1,809.9 tonnes. The humanitarian aid includes: 69 electricity generator, 400 tonnes of cereals, 340 tonnes of canned meat, 30 tonnes of salt, 100 tonnes of sugar, 60 tonnes of canned milk, 0.8 tonnes of tea, 679.5 tonnes of bottled water, 62.4 tonnes of baby foods, 54 tonnes of medical equipment, and 12,300 sleeping bags.
Meanwhile, the Kiev authorities are not planning to stop the force operation in eastern Ukraine. “The anti-terrorist operation will be continued regardless of the movement of the humanitarian convoy. But all measures will be taken to ensure its security,” spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council Andrei Lysenko told a briefing on Tuesday.