Hundreds of trucks covered in white tarpaulin began rolling towards the Ukraine-Russia border recently, delivering aid from Russia to rebel-held portions of Eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian officials believe that the aid convoy is simply a “trojan horse,” designed to give rebels necessary arms and supplies to continue their fight against the Ukrainian army. Some reports have indicated that the convoy would stop at the border, and that the aid supplies would be unloaded and distributed to areas of need by the Red Cross.
According to the Russian foreign ministry, the aid delivery consists of 262 to 287 trucks and contains over 1,800 tons of “humanitarian supplies.” They specifically mentioned sleeping bags, medical equipment, electric generators and baby food. However, many in the west have been skeptical about the content and goals of the aid delivery.
The aid mission has caused many to fear an escalation in the already drawn out conflict. Western powers have repeatedly called the aid envoy a farce designed for Russian officials to sneak troops and/or weapons to the rebels, who have been losing ground to the Ukrainian military. Russia has denied these allegations, and has released statements declaring accusations by the West “absurd.” An official statement from Moscow said, “They continue to voice the absurd claim that the humanitarian convoy to help the civilian population of southeast Ukraine could be used as a pretext for Russian ‘military intervention.'”
The legitimacy of the aid envoy hinges on the Red Cross. Russian officials have claimed that the Red Cross has been coordinating with them on this mission, and that no military personnel or weapons are included. While the Red Cross has been working to help increase the amount of humanitarian aid being delivered into the region, they have denied involvement with this specific mission and have told news agencies that they have not been able to investigate the aid delivery.
Andre Loersch, the Red Cross spokesman in Kiev, told the media that “discussions are still ongoing” between them and Russia. He elaborated by saying, “The ICRC needs more details of what is in the convoy. The convoy is on the road and the ICRC has not had the opportunity to check what is inside.”
As of now, the aid convey still remains in limbo, with the full scope of its contents left unknown until the Red Cross investigates.
– Andre Gobbo