No green light to Red Cross: Russian aid convoy stuck at Ukraine border waiting for Kiev’s nod
On Saturday, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation arrived in Russia’s southern Rostov region to help to iron out the difficulties of the delivery of the Russian humanitarian aid to eastern Ukraine.
Russia sent 280 trucks with medical supplies, food, including baby food, sleeping bags and other basic necessities to southeastern Ukraine on Tuesday. But the cargo still has not reached the residents of the regions badly hit by the conflict as the Kiev government has yet to formally approval for the convoy to cross into Ukraine.
The sides – including Russian and Ukrainian border guards and customs officials - spent several hours in talks trying to reach a compromise over the issue.
They “made quite some progress,” Red Cross official Pascal Cuttat told the media after the meeting.
For now the procedures of the cargo customs clearing and the inspection of all the trucks by the ICRC at the border have been agreed upon. It was also agreed that every Russian vehicle delivering the aid will be accompanied by a Red Cross employee once the convoy gets on Ukrainian soil.
However, it is not clear when exactly ICRC will be able to inspect the trucks.
“The ICRC has sent a paper to Kiev formally requesting that this convoy can be processed. We are waiting for the answer to this request,” the organization’s official said.
However, the key element for the convoy to proceed remains security on its way to the regions that have been at the epicenter of fierce fighting between the Ukrainian army and local self-defense troops.
“There remains one, of course, major challenge: we absolutely need security guarantees from all parties concerned before we can start moving,” Cuttat said.
That issue, he added, will have to be sorted once Kiev allows the delivery of the cargo.
Earlier on Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Kiev is trying to review the agreements on Russian humanitarian aid.
“We categorically deny the ill-meaning manipulation of facts that has been recently done by representatives of some of Ukraine’s government bodies. In particular, according to media reports, the representatives of the Ukraine’s Security Council state that the Russian side refused to deliver the humanitarian aid via the border posts controlled by Ukraine. Wild guesses circulate that we allegedly didn’t provide the information on the contents of the humanitarian aid. Both allegations are contrary to the facts,” the ministry said in a statement.