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11 Aug, 2014 14:02

Russia and Ukraine agree on humanitarian operation - Lavrov

Russia and Ukraine agree on humanitarian operation - Lavrov

Moscow and Kiev have agreed on a humanitarian mission under the authority of the Red Cross, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated.

“With careful optimism, I can now say that, I think, all possible and impossible pretexts have been dismissed. I hope that in the very nearest future this humanitarian action will take place under the authority of the Red Cross,” Lavrov said.

“We’ve agreed on all details with the Ukrainian leadership,” the Foreign Minister declared.

He also expressed hope that “Western partners won’t put a spoke in the wheel and will think about the people who arebadly in needof water and electricity,” Lavrov said.

Russia, together with the International Red Cross Committee, is sending a humanitarian convoy to Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin told the head of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, according to the president’s press service.

Residential buildings in Shakhtyorsk, destroyed by a Ukrainian military artillery attack. (RIA Novosti)

“Attention was focused on thecatastrophicconsequences of the military operation conducted by the Kiev authorities in the south-eastern regions, and the necessity to urgently deliver humanitarian aid to theconflict zone,” the statement said.

Foreign minister accused Washington, London and Berlin of a “blatant expression of cynicism” in thinking eastern Ukraine doesn’t need humanitarian aid.

“If what the press services in London and Washington, and I think, Berlin, too, [say] - about the telephone contacts of the US, UK and German leaders - if it’s true what was said, and in particular that all three leaders agreed there is no need for humanitarian aid to southeastern Ukraine, because all necessary measures are already being taken, then it’s a blatant expression of cynicism,” the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Meanwhile, the ICRC has emphasized the urgent need for the aid to reach the areas affected by fighting. The organization said it is ready to facilitate the initiative, but expects more details of the operation from Moscow.

"It is urgent that aid reaches people in Lugansk and in other areas in the eastern part of the country, which have sustained heavy fighting over the past weeks," said Laurent Corbaz, the ICRC's head of operations for Europe and Central Asia. "The situation is critical – thousands of people are reported to be without access to water, electricity and medical aid."

The Red Cross also announced that it has met and shared documentation with Ukrainian and Russian authorities which outline details including the agreement by all sides for the ICRC to deliver the aid.

The NGO also says that it is waiting to receive more details from Moscow concerning the aid cargo. The ICRC also expects all parties to guarantee the security of the committee's staff during the operation.

"The practical details of this operation need to be clarified before this initiative can move forward," said Corbaz, in view of the fact that the organization does not accept armed escorts.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been left without water, electricity, mobile, and stationary communications for over a week. Constant deadly shellings have forced many to seek refuge in underground shelters, and 117,000 have been forcibly displaced within Ukraine, according to the latest UN figures. According to Moscow's data, 730,000 others have fled to Russia.

The building of an outpatient clinic destroyed in the Ukrainian army's artillery attack in Donetsk. (RIA Novosti/Mikhail Voskresenskiy)