Updated 10:02 p.m. Moscow time.
ROSTOV-ON-DON, September 19 (RIA Novosti) - The first trucks of a Russian convoy carrying a new shipment of humanitarian aid to eastern Ukraine on Friday started entering a customs clearance zone on the Russian side of the border with Ukraine, a Russian customs official told RIA Novosti.
"At 08.30 p.m. Moscow time, the first vehicles with humanitarian aid to Ukraine entered the customs clearance zone at the Matveev Kurgan crossing point," Rayan Farukshin said.
It is the third truck convoy, sent by Russia to alleviate a severe humanitarian crisis in the Donbas region, caused by armed clashes between Kiev-led forces and independence supporters that have killed over 3,000 people since the start of the conflict five months ago.
The first convoy of 280 trucks, carrying Russian humanitarian aid, was sent to eastern Ukraine in late August and entered the country through a checkpoint controlled by independence forces after spending more than a week at the border.
The second Russian humanitarian convoy was made up of 220 trucks carrying some 1,800 tons of food, medicine, water purification equipment and power generators. It arrived in the Eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk last weekend and returned to Russia shortly after.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has demanded that Russia stops sending convoys with humanitarian aid to southeastern Ukraine, labeling them as "provocations".
According to the UN, the Kiev-led military operation against independence supporters in the Donbas region, launched in April, has killed over 3,000 people and put Ukraine's east on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe.