Ukraine crisis: Humanitarian aid mission stalls over fears it will be used as pretext for Russian invasion

The 170-truck convoy remains in western Russia amid confusion over where it will cross the border and its role

Voronezh, Russia

A Russian aid mission to eastern Ukraine – which Ukrainians feared was a pretext for a Russian invasion – is still stranded in western Russia.

Around 170 white trucks were parked at a military base in Voronezh amid confusion as to how they would get to Ukraine and what their purpose would be once they arrived.

Ukraine and Russia have tentatively agreed that the aid will be delivered to a government-controlled crossing in Ukraine’s Kharkiv province, which hasn’t been touched by the months of fighting that have wracked neighbouring regions. Still, it remained unclear whether the convoy would take that route or travel to Ukraine via pro-Russian rebel-held border posts, which Ukraine could consider an act of war.

Russia said that claims made by Australia and Nato that it could use a humanitarian-aid convoy to Ukraine as a cover for invasion were absurd. Amid the tensions, the Russian President Vladimir Putin travelled to Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia seized from Ukraine in March, where he was to chair a session of his Security Council.

 

A meeting with Mr Putin’s entire cabinet and most Russian politicians was scheduled for today. A key sticking point for Ukraine was that all incoming humanitarian aid must be vetted by the International Red Cross. Officials in Kiev said the aid cargo could be unloaded at the border and loaded on to vehicles leased by the Red Cross.

But the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, said while the unloading idea had come under discussion, it was rejected for cost reasons.

The estimated 2,000 tons of aid, which reportedly includes goods ranging from baby food to portable generators, is intended for civilians in the Luhansk region, the scene of some of the fiercest fighting between government troops and pro-Russian  separatists.

The regional capital of Luhansk has had no electricity for 11 days and only the most essential goods are available. The UN said that there had been an escalation in the violence in east Ukraine in recent weeks.

Cecile Pouilly, a UN spokeswoman, said the death toll has risen to at least 2,086 people as of 10 August from 1,129 on 26 July, while a further 4,953 people have been wounded in the fighting since mid-April.

The Russian convoy carrying humanitarian aid in the Voronezh region of Russia en route to Ukraine The Russian convoy carrying humanitarian aid in the Voronezh region of Russia en route to Ukraine (AP)
Ms Pouilly said that on average more than 60 people a day have been killed or wounded as part of “a clear escalating trend” of violence, including Ukrainian armed forces, civilians and armed groups.

Intense fighting was still taking place in the main rebel-held city of Donetsk. At least 12 militiamen fighting alongside government troops were killed in an ambush outside the besieged city.

Inside the city, at least three people were killed overnight on Tuesday as the government intensified its shelling.

Artem Skoropatsky said the Right Sector volunteer fighters were shot dead while travelling on a bus and many others on the bus were wounded and taken captive. He did not know how many.

“There is a suspicion that the wounded will be treated very harshly and could be shot,” he said.

Right Sector played a marginal – if highly visible – role in the protests that culminated in the overthrow of the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February.

The group’s far-right nationalist affiliations have made it a target of lurid reporting in Russia state media, which has sought to cast the post-Yanukovych government as extremists.

Ukrainian border guards stand at the Ukrainian-Russian border crossing Ukrainian border guards stand at the Ukrainian-Russian border crossing (EPA)
Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, said that 11 servicemen were killed in the previous day’s fighting, but he could not immediately say whether that figure included the Right Sector militiamen.

Government troops have laid siege to Donetsk and nearby rebel holdings in their push to quash the pro-Russian insurgency.

They have largely refrained from street-to-street fighting, favouring often inaccurate rocket fire.

Residents said the intermittent artillery barrage lasted around two hours. City authorities said 10 residential buildings and the wing of a hospital were struck. Associated Press reporters saw two bodies lying in a street this morning in Donetsk’s south-western Petrovsky district.

The city government reported three deaths. Russian media reported that Igor Strelkov, the Russian leader of the rebels, was seriously wounded today.

The shelling has damaged power plants and gas pipelines, leaving left large parts of the city without electricity or gas.

The fighting in eastern Ukraine began in April, a month after Mr Putin annexed Crimea.

AP and Reuters

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?