ROSTOV-ON-DON (RIA Novosti) – Russian officials have completed customs clearance of all humanitarian aid convoy vehicles, a spokesman for Russia’s Southern Customs Directorate, Rayan Farukshin, said Friday.
“At 16:00 [Moscow time, noon GMT] Russian customs officers completed customs procedures of the whole humanitarian convoy,” the spokesman said, adding that the trucks are currently leaving the Russian border crossing.
Ukraine’s State Border Service said it cannot confirm the report since Kiev representatives have not been granted access to the clearance.
“We don’t have such information, we are not allowed there,” a representative for Ukraine’s State Border Service said.
In August, amid a worsening humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine, Russia suggested sending a humanitarian aid convoy accompanied by Red Cross representatives to violence-torn Ukrainian regions. On August 12, a convoy of 280 trucks carrying about 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid, including baby food, medicine, grain, sugar, sleeping bags and other necessities, set out from near Moscow for Ukraine.
However, the convoy has been stuck on Russia’s border with Ukraine, while Kiev was sending conflicting reports on whether the cargo would be allowed to proceed into eastern Ukraine.
Earlier on Friday, Moscow accused Kiev of deliberately holding up the delivery of Russian humanitarian aid, and ordered the convoy to proceed without waiting for further permission from Kiev. The head of the Russian Red Cross, Raisa Lukutsova, said the organization supported the decision to get the humanitarian convoy moving, adding that the Russian Red Cross is ready to escort the humanitarian convoy and has appealed to the ICRC for permission to do so.