MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The convoy consists of over 100 vehicles that will bring more than 1,000 metric tons of aid, including food, medicine and items of first necessity, to Donbass residents. The food includes pasta, flour, sugar, tea and vegetable oil.
"At 04:00 Moscow time [01:00 GMT] the Russian Emergencies Ministry’s convoy with humanitarian aid for Donbass headed from the Donskoy rescue center toward the state border," a ministry spokesperson told journalists early on Thursday.
Earlier this week, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced that some five million people in southeastern Ukraine urgently need humanitarian aid.
According to the OCHA, local residents face difficulties mostly due to an unstable water supply and high prices, with the cost of medicine and food in Ukraine’s breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk being 60-100 percent higher compared to the rest of the country.
Kiev launched a military operation against independence supporters in Donetsk and Lugansk in April 2014. Earlier that year, a new government came to power in Ukraine as a result of a coup, which led to the ousting of president Viktor Yanukovych.
In November 2014, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree imposing an economic blockade on Donbas and withdrawing all state-funded health, educational and social protections from the region.
Russia has delivered over 43,000 tonnes of aid to Ukraine’s southeast since August 2014 to provide humanitarian relief to local residents amid the fighting.