Kiev Races to Counter Russian Convoy With Own Aid to Eastern Ukraine

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The Ukrainian government sent trucks carrying humanitarian aid to Lugansk on Wednesday, a spokesman for President Petro Poroshenko told The Financial Times.

The announcement comes a day after an estimated 280 Russian trucks left Moscow allegedly on a humanitarian mission to the war torn regions of eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk made it clear that Kiev would not allow fleet of white Russian convoys to cross the border, The Guardian reported. 

From The New York Times:

On Tuesday, Russia insisted that it had reached an agreement that the aid would go through, while Ukraine, seeming to wake up late to the theatrical gesture of having nearly 300 aid trucks rolling toward its frontier, began scrambling to show that it too planned to organize aid for the beleaguered civilians in Donetsk and Luhansk.

Yatsenyuk's statements are consistent with a mandate that was given to The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to handle all humanitarian shipments to areas where Russian separatists are fighting Ukrainian nationalists. The ICRC said that while the Russian government told them about the possibility of an aid delivery to Ukraine last week, the specifics had not yet been agreed upon.

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An aid to Porshenko, Iryna Herashchenko told The Financial Times that Ukrainian trucks were following a route to Lugansk that has been approved by the Red Cross.  

While Herashchenko expressed doubts that the Russian envoy was carrying aid, she maintained that deliveries of humanitarian supplies go through the ICRC. 

If it’s humanitarian aid, it will be loaded on the Ukrainian border for the needs of the Red Cross and under the jurisdiction of the Red Cross – and only in this form will it make its way to affected regions.”

On Monday, Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned that a Russian attack in eastern Ukraine could come "under the guise of a humanitarian operation."

Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko  said that as of Monday Russia has an estimated 45,000 troops, 1,360 armored vehicles, 390 artillery systems, 192 fighter aircrafts, and 137 attack helicopters stationed on the border with Ukraine. 

The White House released the following statement about the current situation in Ukraine after President Obama spoke with German Chancellor Merkel on August 9.

"[Any] Russian intervention in Ukraine, even under purported 'humanitarian' auspices, without the formal, express consent and authorization of the Government of Ukraine is unacceptable, violates international law, and will provoke additional consequences."

The news comes on the heels of reporting from The New York Times that the death toll in eastern Ukraine has almost doubled in recent weeks from 1,129 on July 26 to 2,086 as of August 10, according to estimates from the U.N. human rights office. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.