Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced plans for a second humanitarian convoy to be sent to eastern Ukraine, urging foreign actors and agencies to participate in continuing efforts at relieving the crisis.
Failure to do so would constitute a violation of international law, he warned.
“Anyone in need of aid shall receive it,” the FM said, stressing that it is important to learn from the mistakes of the first attempt and to look forward to closer cooperation with the Ukrainian authorities this time around.
He stressed that as the indiscriminate shelling of areas such as Lugansk continues, the humanitarian need for water and food grows. This has been acknowledged by humanitarian agencies and itnernational actors at large.
The distribution of aid is currently underway, and is headed by the ICRC.
"The second aid convoy must travel this week... We hope for less interference and more cooperation from Ukrainian authorities this time"
The FM also added that the shelling of schools, hospitals, kindergartens and other vulnerable institutions and structures can no longer be excused by claims of “wrongful shooting” or be written off as “accidental.”
Minister Lavrov emphasized that Russia is willing and ready to participate in full in any type of negotiations on ending hostilities in the east, and expressed hope that Tuesday’s meeting in Minsk will include a focus on the crisis in Ukraine.
“We certainly expect that tomorrow’s meeting in Minsk will feature a discussion on the humanitarian crisis,” Lavrov said. “We express hope that all participants will urge for the removal of any obstacles to smooth aid delivery to those who are most in need of it,” he added.
The upcoming gathering will be attended by the Customs Union, the Ukrainian authorities and members of the EU.
Sergey Lavrov was asked a wide range of questions on the situation in Ukraine, including the claims that Russian arms were crossing the border.
Allegations of Russian attempts to smuggle military equipment into Ukraine are false and are the latest in a string of bad information that has been circulating in recent days, the minister said. No one, including Ukraine’s special services, could confirm those suspicions.
Lavrov went on to stress that reports of Russian forces crossing into Ukraine have not been confirmed by the OSCE, which is evidenced in their report.
“We were ready at the August 17 meeting in Berlin to urge the provision of any support necessary – including drones – to the OSCE mission.”
He further mentioned OSCE concerns that indiscriminate arrests carried out by the militias are beginning to resemble a "witch hunt."
The people migrating into the west are not being taken in, nor are their children being given places in schools, he stressed.
When opposition leaders Klichko, Tyangibok and Yatsenyuk signed the February 21 agreement, the stress was on dialogue and national unity. Ever since then, the FM believes, the move was in the opposite direction. He stressed that Russia is ready for any sort of dialogue - Geneva format or not - as long as there is a result.
"Allegations of Russian military crossing into Ukraine like Malaysian Boeing story, with accusations and talk of irrefutable proof, followed by silence"
The minister was dismayed at the ongoing investigation into the downing of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine, which aroused much controversy and finger-pointing. He said that at this point it would appear that Russia “seems to be the only interested party in giving this serious issue any further attention.”