Home >News >World >Russian convoy may head to Ukraine on Friday: Red Cross

Moscow: The Red Cross said truckloads of Russian humanitarian aid may start crossing the border on Friday to eastern Ukraine, where months of fighting has cut off water and electricity to residents of the region’s biggest cities.

Inspections of almost 300 Russian trucks have begun, Laurent Corbaz, the International Committee of the Red Cross’s head of operations for Europe, said on Thursday in Moscow. The organization had been seeking security guarantees as battles raged on between Ukraine’s army and pro-Russian separatists.

The ICRC sent additional staff to the area and received all the authorization from the authorities to clear the aid and humanitarian cargo as soon as possible, Corbaz told reporters. The convoy could start its operation soon, he said. Hopefully Friday.

Russia, which Ukraine and its allies blame for stoking the insurgency, dispatched a convoy containing food and other supplies last week. The trucks have been parked near the two nations’ border awaiting clearance to proceed. Ukraine has been fractured by the fighting that’s erupted since Russia annexed Crimea in March. Russia denies it’s involved in the conflict, which has triggered sanctions from the US and Europe.

Safety concerns

Ukraine’s currency, the hryvnia, lost 1.1% against the dollar on Thursday, extending its August drop to 8.7%, the most among currencies tracked by Bloomberg. Russia’s Micex stock index rose 1.2% in Moscow, gaining for a 10th day.

Fighting continued in Ukraine’s easternmost regions, with the unrest posing a potential obstacle to the passage of the Russian aid, according to Galina Balzamova, a Red Cross spokeswoman who said a delegation visited Luhansk on Wednesday.

The security situation is changing by the minute, she said at the border with Ukraine in Russia’s Rostov region. The convoy will only move when it can travel safely.

Five soldiers were killed and 21 wounded in the past day, military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told reporters on Thursday in Kiev. Thirty-four civilians were killed and 29 hurt in and around Donetsk, the separatists’ main stronghold, over 24 hours, the regional administration said on Wednesday.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov repeated calls on 18 August for an unconditional cease-fire. Ukraine’s government says it will declare a truce only if the pro-Russian rebels lay down their arms and Russia stops supplying them with weapons.

In Kiev, President Petro Poroshenko’s spokesman, Svyatoslav Tsegolko, said on Twitter that parliament may be dissolved on 24 August, the day on which Ukraine marks its 1991 declaration of independence from the Soviet Union. The nation plans to call early elections this year, after holding the presidential ballot that brought Poroshenko to power in May.

The votes are a consequence of former President Viktor Yanukovych’s ouster in February, when he fled to Russia amid violent street protests. A member of the government that took over, economy minister Pavlo Sheremeta, stepped down on Thursday, citing the appointment of a deputy without his consent. BLOOMBERG

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