Conflict & Justice

The convoy of Russian aid trucks is stalled on the road to Ukraine


A Russian convoy of trucks carrying humanitarian aid for Ukraine drives along a road near the city of Yelets August 12, 2014. The convoy purported to be carrying tons of humanitarian aid left on Tuesday for eastern Ukraine, where government forces are closing in on pro-Russian rebels, but Kiev said it would not allow the vehicles to cross onto its territory.


Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

The convoy of Russian humanitarian aid on its way to eastern Ukraine was stalled Wednesday.

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Hundreds of the white trucks Russian officials say are packed with aide supplies are now standing idle near the Russian city of Voronezh, about 220 miles from the Ukrainian border. Meanwhile, in Kiev, a spokesman for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accused Moscow of planning a "direct invasion of Ukrainian territory under the guise of delivering humanitarian aid.''

This statement comes just a day after the Ukrainian government agreed that it would accept the aid with several conditions. One of those conditions: any aid would be distributed in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

“Right now, at this stage the convoy is absolutely under the auspices of the Russian authorities, it is not under our auspices,” said Ana Nelson, spokesperson for the ICRC in Washington, DC.

On Monday the ICRC gave the Russian government a document stipulating the requirements they would need to administer the aid from Russia, including security needs for ICRC staff.

“We don’t accept armed escorts," Nelson said. "The documents also stipulates that customs and border crossing procedures have to be settled by the two sides."

Those issues remain outstanding, according to Nelson. Also unclear is what humanitarian goods are exactly in the convoy.  

“We received a general list that listed basic necessities such as bottled water, food and generators, so we’ve asked for a more detailed inventory of the contents,” Nelson said.

Humanitarian items that should be on that list, according to Nelson include household items like cooking pots, water and soap.

“We know that the needs in Luhansk, which has been cut-off now for 11 days — they’ve had no communications, no water, no electricity — are basic,” said Nelson. “The situation is becoming more and more critical.”