Ukraine Says Russian Aid Must Be Delivered By Red Cross
August 13, 2014 by McClatchy-Tribune
KIEV (MCT) — Ukraine said Wednesday that any foreign humanitarian aid will have to be delivered by the International Committee of the Red Cross, dealing a blow to a large Russian convoy en route to the country’s embattled east.
Any form of humanitarian aid will be received “exclusively under international law and exclusively from the Red Cross,” Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told a cabinet meeting, according to local news agencies.
Earlier, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said that the Russian convoy would not be let in to Ukraine’s Kharkiv region.
“A provocation by the cynical aggressor on our territory is unacceptable,” Avakov wrote on Facebook.
Ukrainian officials began to dismantle a storage facility that had been set up especially for the convoy at the Russian-Ukrainian border near Kharkiv, the Interfax Ukraine news agency reported.
A convoy of some 280 Russian trucks with humanitarian aid left the city of Voronezh early Wednesday and headed to the Belgorod region on the border with Ukraine, the RIA Novosti state news agency reported, citing its correspondent traveling with the convoy.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has said that the convoy, which is destined for the city of Luhansk, would pass into Ukraine’s Kharkiv region — a concession to Kiev, which has demanded that the trucks are unloaded and inspected before crossing the border.
The route via Kharkiv means a sizable detour through territory controlled by Ukrainian forces. The direct route to Luhansk would be through Russia’s Rostov region, where some border posts are controlled by pro-Russian separatists.
The Ukrainian government has said it fears the Russians could be supplying arms to separatists, under the guise of supplying 2,000 tons of food and medicine to civilians in the rebel-held areas.
Kiev has demanded that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) should carry out the transport and distribution on Ukrainian territory. However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has suggested that ICRC officials would accompany the Russian trucks.
The ICRC did not immediately comment on the situation on Wednesday.
In Ukraine’s Luhansk region hundreds of thousands of civilians have been without electricity and mains water for 11 days.
Ukrainian and Western leaders have warned Russia not to use aid deliveries to support the rebels, who have lost ground to government forces in recent fighting.
Yatsenyuk also said that Ukraine was able to feed its own people and does in principle not need foreign aid. He announced that the government had set aside another $760,000 to buy urgently needed goods.
–Nikolaus Von Twickel
(c)2014 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany).
Distributed by MCT Information Services.