MOSCOW, August 23 (RIA Novosti) – The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) confirmed on Saturday that all 227 vehicles that entered Ukraine as part of a Russian aid convoy have returned home.
“The OSCE Observer Mission (OM) concludes that all 227 vehicles of the aid convoy, which had crossed the Donetsk BCP [Border Crossing Point] towards Ukraine on 22 August, … have returned to the Russian Federation (RF),” the organization said in a statement.
A total number of 220 vehicles of the Russian humanitarian aid convoy returned from Ukraine on Saturday, while seven vehicles of the convoy had returned on Friday evening, according to the OSCE.
Earlier in the day, Russia’s Deputy Emergency Minister Eduard Chizhikov also said that a total of 227 trucks took part in the Russian humanitarian operation. All vehicles were searched by the representatives of the customs and border control, both on the Ukrainian and Russian side. No issues have been pointed out. All vehicles were empty upon returning.
On August 14, the trucks with Russian humanitarian aid arrived at the border, but Ukraine began customs clearance only on August 21.
On Friday, Moscow accused Kiev of deliberately delaying the aid delivery. The same day, Russian convoy crossed the border and arrived in Luhansk, the city being sieged by the Ukrainian army and struggling daily without regular food supplies, water and electricity.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry described the convoy crossing the Russian border as a violation of international norms.
Moscow reminded that Russia received a formal agreement from Kiev authorities for the passage of the humanitarian convoy through the Ukrainian border on August 12.
Russia Says Aid Delivery to East Ukraine Legal, Guided by Humanitarian Principles
MOSCOW, August 23 (RIA Novosti) – Russia said Saturday its humanitarian assistance mission to turbulent eastern Ukraine had complied with the International Court of Justice ruling that allowed for the delivery of humanitarian aid to people disregarding their political convictions.
“In its actions in southeastern Ukraine Russia strictly abided by international principles, such as humanity and [the need to] protect the civil population from the aftermath of the war,” it said in a statement.
The ministry pointed to the paragraph 242 of the International Justice Court’s ruling dated June 27, 1986 stipulating that humanitarian aid “cannot be regarded as unlawful intervention.”
On Friday, a 280-truck Russian convoy carrying humanitarian aid crossed into Ukraine and delivered the cargo to Luhansk, a city besieged by the Ukrainian army and struggling without regular food supplies, fresh water and electricity.
Luhansk People’s Republic authorities said that distribution of Russian humanitarian aid is due to start Saturday, adding that Luhansk residents hope for more assistance from Russia.
The trucks brought grain, water, baby food, medicine, sleeping bags and electricity generators to the affected region.
Russia’s action prompted anger in Kiev and a number of Western countries who accused Moscow of a military intervention and violation of Ukraine’s borders.
The Russian ambassador to UN, Vitaly Churkin, responded saying the trucks had been stranded at the border for a week, despite the authorities in Kiev giving the mission a go-ahead on August 12. He accused Kiev of dragging its feet on allowing aid to Luhansk and stressed Russia had to act to save perishable goods for the city’s struggling population.
Luhansk Residents Welcome First Group of Humanitarian Aid Convoy
LUHANSK, August 22 (RIA Novosti) – Residents of the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk, controlled by independence supporters, have enthusiastically welcomed the Russian trucks loaded with humanitarian aid which reached the city on Friday.
The trucks reached warehouses and food storehouses, equipped with refrigerators. Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) authorities have spent a week preparing the facilities for the arrival of the Russian humanitarian cargo.
At least 24 aid distribution stations have been set up so far, twelve of them are due to open on Saturday morning, Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) authorities said.
The city authorities have already made a list of the residents who are most in need of help, according to Oleg Tsarev, a parliament speaker of the union of the self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine.
“First of all, the aid will be provided to the retired people, as well as to the families where both parents work in the public sector, refugees, those who suffered from bombardments, the disabled and hospital patients,” Tsarev said.
Earlier on Friday, over a hundred of Russian trucks carrying humanitarian aid crossed the border into Ukraine allegedly without clearance by Ukrainian customs officials or a Red Cross escort. Militia in Luhansk already confirmed the arrival of the trucks. According to media reports, around 130 Russia’s aid convoy trucks arrived in the city.
A convoy of 280 trucks carrying food, medicine and other essentials for people in eastern Ukraine set out from near Moscow on August 12. It had been stranded at the border with Ukraine for more than a week.
The humanitarian disaster in Lugansk occurred after the Ukrainian army had blocked approaches to the city. All food supplies to Lugansk were interrupted. The local people were left without drinking water or electricity. Power supply to social facilities had to be urgently restored after artillery shelling.