DONETSK, August 24 (RIA Novosti) – The leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine said Sunday the region required humanitarian assistance after months of heavy fighting between government forces and local militia.
Republic’s Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko said he was not going to ask the embattled city of Luhansk to share the aid that Russia’s convoy had brought earlier this week.
“It’s hard but we’ll try to survive on our own for now,” Zakharchenko said at a press conference. “Luhansk needs it [aid] more, the situation is more difficult there.”
The DPR leader said republic’s authorities had long been negotiating humanitarian aid deliveries to its population. Earlier he warned that the situation in the region would soon reach disaster proportions.
Donetsk and Luhansk have been in the center of fierce fighting since the launch of Kiev’s “anti-terrorist” operation against independence supporters in the east.
Heavy clashes and uninterrupted shelling by the Ukrainian Army have led to a severe humanitarian crisis in the area marked by water and power shortages. On Sunday, another civilian lost his life in Donetsk after a mortar round hit a private house in a residential quarter. The victim was reportedly an elderly man. Two more people were killed by mortar fire in a southern district.
As the humanitarian situation worsened dramatically, Russia moved to send a humanitarian convoy under the auspices of the Red Cross to eastern Ukraine. The convoy comprised 227 trucks carrying about 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid that included baby food, medicine, grain, sugar, sleeping bags, generators and other essentials.
Kiev later lashed out at Moscow, accusing it of allegedly ordering its humanitarian aid convoy across the border without permission from the Ukrainian government, which it said was a flagrant violation of the country’s sovereignty.
Russia’s ambassador to UN, Vitaly Churkin, retorted that the permission was granted to Moscow back on August 12, while the Red Cross bowed out of escorting the convoy after leaving the 227 trucks stranded at the border for a week.
The vehicles were confirmed by Ukrainian customs officials to be carrying food, water and generators to the besieged city of Luhansk in Ukraine’s east.
Meanwhile, authorities in Luahnsk said the aid was being distributed according to the previously made lists of most affected residents. The city has been besieged by the Ukrainian Army for weeks and is struggling daily without regular food supplies, water and electricity.