Russia sends 26th ‘aid’ convoy to Donbas
The Russian Emergencies Ministry has sent another large column of trucks into Ukraine that it says is carrying humanitarian aid for Ukraine’s Donbas regions, the BBC’s Russian Service reported on Thursday, with reference to the ministry.
According to the report, the column consisted of over 100 vehicles. It is the 26th such column sent into Ukraine without the permission of the Ukrainian authorities since August last year.
"The column set off from the Don rescue center of the Emergency Situations Ministry in Rostov region at 0400 Moscow time. The convoy of trucks will be divided into two parts en route: some trucks will go to Donetsk region, while the other part will go to Luhansk region," the report says.
While Russia insists the columns of trucks it sends into Ukraine are carrying aid for the people of the Donbas, they only ever cross into Ukraine via border points that are not under the control of the Ukrainian authorities, and only visit the areas of Ukraine where armed gangs have seized control from the Ukrainian authorities.
Russia also refuses to allow full inspections of the cargoes carried by the trucks, either by the Ukrainian authorities, the International Committee of the Red Cross, or the OSCE.
The Ukrainian authorities have said the convoys are being used to bring weapons, ammunition and supplies to the militant organizations in parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and to bring out the dead bodies of Russians killed in the fighting in the east of Ukraine.
Video footage has emerged online in past months apparently showing Grad rockets being unloaded from the Russian trucks, as have other videos showing the unloading of roofing materials and other legitimate aid.
However, it is impossible to fully verify the authenticity of these videos.