MOSCOW, August 11 (RIA Novosti) – Finland’s Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja is in constant contact with his colleagues from the United Nations (UN) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in order to fulfil Russia’s plan to deliver humanitarian aid to Ukraine, Finland’s Yle television channel reported Monday.
“The situation in eastern Ukraine has not yet reached the scale of the [humanitarian] catastrophe in Gaza or Iran but still it is very serious,” Tuomioja said in an interview.
The minister said Russia’s proposals should be considered, but noted that any kind of humanitarian aid should be delivered in cooperation with the Ukrainian government.
Last Tuesday at the UN Security Council, Russia offered to deploy an international humanitarian mission, with Russian humanitarian aid under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross to Ukraine’s troubled eastern regions.
Soon afterward, Kiev said it would manage on its own and denied there was a humanitarian crisis in the country. Late Friday, the International Committee of the Red Cross welcomed Russia’s proposal.
A number of Western countries, including the United States, Canada, Britain and Germany argued that Russian humanitarian aid should only be delivered to Ukraine after Moscow secured Kiev’s consent, otherwise it would be “unjustified and illegal.”
On August 4, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov addressed the humanitarian organizations in the UN, OSCE, the Council of Europe and the International Committee of the Red Cross with a call to send a humanitarian mission to Ukraine.
Kiev authorities launched a military operation in eastern Ukraine in mid-April to crackdown on independence supporters protesting the results of the February regime change. According to UN estimates, from the beginning of the offensive until July 26, over 1,100 civilians were killed and 3,400 wounded. Moscow has repeatedly called on Kiev to stop the “punitive operation” and seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict.