New Russian 'humanitarian' convoy of 47 trucks arrives in occupied Donbas
On Thursday morning, Russia on its own handled the so-called humanitarian convoy of 47 trucks heading for Russian-occupied Donbas, aide to the head of Ukraine's State Border Service Oleh Slobodian.
"Two columns of trucks consisting of 47 vehicles crossed the Russian checkpoints, Donetsk and Matveyev Kurgan, from 05:55 to 07:10 local time," Slobodian told Interfax-Ukraine on Thursday morning.
As Russia "for the 58th time traditionally violated all international and Ukrainian rules of handling humanitarian cargo, and ICRC members did not take part in clearance of the cargo," a group of Ukrainian representatives, including the State Border Service and the State Fiscal Service, were only able to "monitor without inspection," he said.
During the monitoring, the Ukrainian side saw most of the vehicles carrying foods and medicines, he said, adding, "At the same time, the trucks were half-empty, and their number does not coincide with the one mentioned in the Russian Foreign Ministry's preliminary notification."
He also said that the monitoring had not revealed any military equipment.
"In my belief, there is no point in the use by Russia of these 'humanitarian' convoys for transportation of military freight. Their task is to show a picture on Russian TV that Russia allegedly performs an important humanitarian mission in the eastern Ukrainian regions it itself has occupied," Slobodian said.
The Ukrainian State Border Service's press service said that the trucks of the convoy were presumably carrying food, medicine, warm clothes and heaters.
"During visual inspection of the vehicles, it was found that the trucks were allegedly filled with food, medicines, second-hand warm clothes and heaters. Traditionally, the vehicles were half-empty, and their number did not correspond to the figure declared in the notification of the Russian Foreign Ministry, as it documented about 40 vehicles, while in fact 47 crossed the border," the Ukrainian agency said.
The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry in turn reported that its truck convoy had delivered over 400 tonnes of 'humanitarian' aid to Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
"More than 40 trucks loaded with over 400 tonnes of humanitarian cargo have arrived in Donetsk and Luhansk," the ministry said on Thursday.
Food, essential goods and medicines were delivered amongst other items, it said.
All trucks passed customs and border control at the Donetsk and Matveyev-Kurgan checkpoints and headed for Donetsk and Luhansk after being cleared by customs, the ministry said.
In all, the Russian ministry has sent 58 truck convoys to Donbas since August 2014. More than 65,000 tonnes of so-called humanitarian aid have been supplied to Luhansk and Donetsk regions since then.