Almost 300 trucks carrying 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid have been sent towards the border with Ukraine, Moscow regional authorities say. Earlier, Russia and Ukraine agreed on a humanitarian mission under the authority of the Red Cross.
Some 280 Kamaz trucks carrying food, medication, and drinking water were sent out by Russia’s Emergencies Ministry from the Moscow region on Tuesday morning, Russian media reported.
"The contact group has decided on Monday that the humanitarian aid convoys will cross over at the Kharkov Oblast border. The Lugansk route has also been agreed upon," Leonid Kuchma, Ukraine's second President and the mediator in the operation told journalists.
He added that "the aid will be distributed by the Red Cross - the convoy will be accompanied by representatives from the OSCE."
“The convoy will deliver to the inhabitants of eastern Ukraine around 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid collected by Muscovites and residents of the Moscow region,” the administration of the Moscow region told Ria Novosti.
Among the provisions is also aid from Ukraine, the United States and the European Union.
It includes 400 tons of grains, 100 tons of sugar, and 62 tons of baby food, as well as 54 tons of medical equipment and medication. The convoy will also deliver around 12,000 sleeping bags and 69 power generators of various types.
"It is of the utmost importance that the distribution be carried out in hospitals, kindergartens, foster homes and other institutions helping the needy and underprivileged. Not a gram must reach the militants," Kuchma, told journalists.
The humanitarian mission is carried out without any participation of the Russian military, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasized earlier.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso earlier on Monday that Russia, in cooperation with representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, is sending a humanitarian convoy to Ukraine.
Prior to that, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that “all possible and impossible pretexts have been dismissed,” referring to discussions with Kiev. Lavrov also expressed hope that “Western partners won’t put a spoke in the wheel and will think about the people who are badly in need of water and electricity.”
In the latest statement, the ICRC emphasized the urgent need for the aid to reach the areas affected by fighting, but said it expects more details of the operation from Moscow.
“Prior to the beginning of the operation, the ICRC should receive without undue delay from the authorities of the Russian Federation all necessary details concerning the aid, including the volume and type of items, and requirements for transport and storage,” the organization said.
Russia initially came up with a proposal to send humanitarian aid under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross to Ukraine's troubled eastern regions last week at the UN Security-Council meeting. However, the leaders of the US, UK, and Germany seem to be stalling the operation, Lavrov said, accusing the states of “blatant expression of cynicism” for claiming that all necessary humanitarian measures “are already being taken” by Kiev authorities.