KIEV/DONETSK (Rostov Region), August 21 /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine has pledged to start letting Russian trucks with humanitarian aid cross the border after it receives a confirmation from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that the ICRC is ready to accompany the cargo to its destination point.
“The Ukrainian side will immediately start relevant work as soon as it gets a final confirmation from the ICRC… The ICRC, which assumed responsibility for all logistic aspects, including the transportation route, storage and distribution of aid in Ukraine, should receive all security guarantees for the personnel and cargo,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website.
The report says Kiev “proceeds from the necessity to synchronize by the Red Cross all supplies of aid to civilians of the Luhansk Region, including those provided by the Ukrainian side in interaction with other states and international organizations.”
The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry sent a convoy of some 260 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.
The trucks are still at the border with Ukraine as Kiev, Moscow and the ICRC are trying to reach an agreement on specific terms of the convoy’s travel in Ukraine.
Talks on the convoy’s passage are underway at the Donetsk-Izvarino border-crossing point. ICRC spokeswoman Galina Balzamova said Wednesday evening that the results of the talks will not be known earlier than Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andrey Lysenko told the Ukrainian TV channel 112 on Wednesday evening that humanitarian trucks will be allowed to cross the border on Thursday morning. Lysenko said Ukrainian border guards and customs officers have not yet received cargo documentation.
An Itar-Tass correspondent reported from the site that the first 16 trucks with relief supplies were standing at the Donetsk-Izvarino checkpoint on the Russian side, waiting for the customs and border control procedures to begin.
Ukraine and Russia have agreed the inspection and customs clearing procedure for the cargo: each truck will be accompanied by a Red Cross official, and Russian and Ukrainian customs officers will examine and seal the trucks before they cross the border.
The southeastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Luhansk regions have been the scene of fierce clashes between troops loyal to Kiev and local militias 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 Luhansk People’s republics.
Kiev's operation, conducted since mid-April, has employed armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation. Hundreds of civilians have lost their lives in it. Many buildings have been destroyed and hundreds of thousands of people have had to flee Ukraine’s embattled southeast.