ROSTOV-ON-DON, August 22 (RIA Novosti) – Russian customs officers plan to complete all the necessary operations for Russian humanitarian aid convoy for Ukraine by the end of Friday, a spokesman from Russia’s Southern Customs Department told RIA Novosti.
“We plan to complete customs operations for all of the remaining trucks today,” the spokesman said.
“The trucks are currently heading to the crossing points. Right now 20 more trucks have arrived and two of them have already been cleared,” he said.
On Thursday night, first trucks rolled into the customs inspection zone to be jointly checked by Russian and Ukrainian officers, after they had been held up for about a week on Ukraine’s eastern border.
On Friday morning, a group of Russian trucks carrying food and water finally crossed the border at Ukraine’s Izvarino checkpoint where they lined up poised to continue onward. Less than an hour later, a group of vehicles was reported to have started moving towards the besieged city of Luhansk.
Russia’s southern customs department spokesman said that 68 trucks have already cleared both Russian and Ukrainian customs and are currently on the road to Luhansk.
According to the latest report by a RIA Novosti correspondent on the ground, another 30 trucks entered Russia’s Donetsk border crossing for customs clearance some time ago.
Upon crossing the border with Ukraine, the arriving convoy was welcomed by a group of local residents wearing St. George ribbons, waving banners and a Russian flag.
The ongoing attacks in the country’s eastern regions have raised concerns from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that refused to accompany the convoy despite previous assurances of secure passage.
In August amid a worsening humanitarian situation, Russia suggested sending a humanitarian aid convoy accompanied by Red Cross representatives to eastern Ukraine. On August 12, a convoy of 280 trucks carrying about 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid, including 400 tons of grain, 100 tons of sugar, 54 tons of medication, along with other cargo, set out from near Moscow for Ukraine.