13 September 2014

Second Russian convoy rolls into eastern Ukraine

The Russian cargo was cleared by officials at Russia's Donetsk checkpoint on Saturday, according to the RIA Novosti News agency.

"Russian customs officers and border guards completed processing the first group of trucks... Now all 35 trucks have left the border crossing point towards Ukraine," Rayan Farukshin, spokesman for the Russian customs office, told the news agency".

According to Russian officials, the latest convoy was carrying a total of 2,000 tones of goods including cereals, pasta, sugar, medicines, diesel, electricity generators and blankets. More than 300 vehicles were due to reach the Russia-Ukraine border by Saturday morning.

Some 220 Russian trucks had moved into eastern Ukraine on August 22 without the consent of the Ukrainian government. Moscow insists it does not need Kyiv's approval to provide much-needed aid to civilians under siege from Ukrainian troops. Kyiv and NATO considered the convoy a direct Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine.

At least 2,000 people have died in eastern Ukraine since fighting broke out last April between government forces and pro-Russian separatists. For the past week, a fragile, and oft broken, ceasefire has reduced the number of casualties from fighting in Ukraine.

shs/jm (AFP, Reuters)