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24 Mar, 2022 12:50

Red Cross wants office closer to Donbass and Ukraine

The organization’s president officially requested Russian help to provide humanitarian aid
Red Cross wants office closer to Donbass and Ukraine

The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, officially requested that an office be opened in Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia on Thursday, calling it “a good starting point” for the organization’s humanitarian work.

“I would like to secure your support for reinforcing logistic structure in Russia, in order to improve our work in Donbass and other parts of Ukraine that are under control of Russian military forces. For this purpose, we have sent a request to open an office in Rostov-on-Don. This would be a good starting point to initiate the work,” Maurer said during talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow.

The ICRC president also stated that the organization would continue working with its colleagues in Donetsk and Lugansk, and noted that more effort was needed in several key matters, such as humanitarian aid for Ukrainian and Donbass citizens. Maurer added that it is necessary to form teams in Ukraine to be sent to contested areas.

Lavrov acknowledged the efforts of the Red Cross in helping people who suffered after the 2014 coup in Kiev, and said Russia is interested in sorting out humanitarian issues, including the evacuation of civilians and delivery of humanitarian aid, on a “specific and meaningful basis, without politicizing.”

Maurer arrived in Moscow on Wednesday to continue the ICRC’s ongoing discussions on humanitarian issues with the Russian authorities. Last week, he visited Kiev to observe the current situation in the country, and met with Ukrainian officials last Thursday to call for greater humanitarian access and greater protection of civilians amid the hostilities.

Moscow attacked the neighboring state in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk.

Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.