Showdown looms as Red Cross shuns Russian aid convoy

Foto: dpa

A Russian aid cavalcade of 280 trucks destined for eastern Ukraine may be blocked at the border, as it is not being accompanied by any staff from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), a core demand of the Kiev government.  

With Ukraine reporting 45,000 massed Russian troops on its border, NATO has cited a "high probability" that Moscow could intervene militarily in the country's east, where Kiev's forces are encircling pro-Russian separatists.

Western officials fear that the aid convoy, expected to arrive in Ukraine on August 14 or 15, could be a cloak for a military action.  

"We must be extremely careful because this could be a cover for the Russians to install themselves near Lugansk and Donetsk and put us before a done deed," the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told France Info radio today (12 August).

"This (convoy) is only possible, only justifiable, if the Red Cross authorises it," he added.

The Ukrainian Security Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko also said that, to be admitted, any aid delivery from Moscow would need to pass through a government-controlled border post, and be accompanied by ICRC officials.

But Anastasia Isyuk, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross in Geneva, told EurActiv that, although negotiations with Moscow were ongoing, the cavalcade did not yet have the ICRC’s blessing.

“Right now there are no Red Cross staff accompanying this convoy,” Isyuk said. “We are ready to facilitate aid deliveries in a humanitarian manner providing practical details are codified and we receive security guarantees from both sides.”

The ICRC has said that its participation in the aid mission would depend on security guarantees, access to vehicle manifests, and respect for its neutrality.

That position was given a boost by the EU’s international cooperation, humanitarian aid and civil protection commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva, speaking in Brussels today.

Neutral, impartial, independent

The Russian aid “must be delivered in a way that strictly and solely assists affected populations,” she told journalists. “It always has to be done in accordance with principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence. No political or other objectives must be pursued.”

Another EU official told EurActiv that “we have to stress how important it is that the international aid organisations and above all the Red Cross are in the driving seat in implementing this.”

According to Isyuk, the ICRC yesterday requested information about the types of assistance being delivered from the Russian authorities, such as the volume of items, transportation arrangements, and storage details.  

The response from Moscow had been “positive,” she said, but not enough to bring the organisation on board.  

“Our work is neutral, impartial and independent and this is a precondition for any operation that the ICRC can participate in,” she added.  


Fighting in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine since mid-April has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom have fled to Russia.

Thousands more inside Ukraine are thought to be short of water, electricity and medical aid due to the fighting. US President Barack Obama said that any Russian intervention without Kiev's consent would be unacceptable and violate international law.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also warned on Monday "against any unilateral military actions in Ukraine, under any pretext, including humanitarian".

More than 1,500 people are thought to have been killed including government forces, rebels and civilians in the four months since the separatists seized territory in the east and Kiev launched its crackdown.

The European Commission yesterday announced an additional €2.5 million of humanitarian assistance to conflict-affected people in Ukraine.

"I call on all sides of this conflict to facilitate the work of humanitarian organisations and allow for the provision of assistance to the civilian population in need, irrespective of who and where they are," Georgieva said.


A Ukrainian foreign ministry press release sent to EurActiv said that Kiev was also sending an international humanitarian aid mission to the Luhansk region. “In addition to goods, prepared by the Ukrainian side, the mission will also include humanitarian assistance provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United States, the EU and Russia,” the statement read. “Humanitarian aid will be distributed among the civilian population of the Lugansk region, which for a long time suffered from the actions of illegal armed groups and terrorism. Such approach is conditioned by repeated violations of the state border of Ukraine by the Russian side and delivery of arms and military equipment to the pro-Russian terrorists in eastern Ukraine.”



Mike Parr's picture

Rather than everybody spouting off - it might be worth while letting the ICRC do what they are good at - making sure that aid gets through to the people that need it - whilst ensuring it is only humanitarian aid and not something else.

At this stage the EU (and Ukraine) could help by simply supporting the ICRC and not making threatening noises. Taking the Russian offer at face value (and that is all one can do at this stage) - it is generous. Having said that, if the fighting stopped this would obviate the need for aid convoys - & that is certainly in the gift of Russia.

Jay's picture

Kiev has blocked all negotiations to stop the fighting except for total surrender of the separatists, the US is behind that call.

National Security Council and Defense Minister of Ukraine, Andrei Lysenko, stated the Kiev regime has officially denied entry to the convoy and has demanded that only red cross vehicles carry the aid to the eastern regions. BTW, Washington is dictating the terms of the aid delivery.

Washington does not accept law, neither domestic nor international, as a constraint on its actions. Washington is “exceptional, indispensable.” No one else counts. No law, no Constitution, and no humane consideration has authority to constrain Washington’s will.

Has anyone noted the double standards coming out of Germany and the US regarding aid to Iraq but not Ukraine?

Jay's picture

The bloodiest days of Ukraine’s ethnic cleansing are expected to come now. Will Russia test NATO? Will the west risk nuclear war to protect Ukraine? Putin has shown he won't take the west's bait unless he feels confident he can swallow the fisherman in the bargain.

The conflict has worsened as a result of the Kiev government's bombing and mortaring of two large pro-Russian cities in eastern Ukraine where scores of civilians, including many women and children, have died. Why is Kiev doing this? And why is the White House and their NATO allies going along with it? To bait Russia, Putin, into intervening militarily so that NATO will intervene militarily. And that means, somewhere, someone in a position of influence wants a Russian war with NATO and that means a Russian-American war. (NATO Europe is negligible in the coming conflict, although I suspect they will become the battlefield.)

Gerry's picture

Kiev has two choices: it can either allow the eastern provinces to secede or it can fight and force them to remain. A weaker leader might have chosen option a) but Poroshenko needs to prove something, so embarks on option b). Since Ukraine is a cobbled-together lot anyway it might be better if after the fighting has come to an end to give the chance to its eastern provinces to repeat the referendum for independence and association with Russia. Then the result would be credible. If Poroshenko want this, is another matter.
Russia sees Ukraine as its little brother and thinks they should have the liberty to do meaningful things there. Russia wants the west to stick to its earlier commitments and not extend NATO right to its borders. America however is quite sure it's the only superpower in the world, and views this as the perfect chance to prove that once again. Poroshenko in the meanwhile, might begin to think he can become the new Yanukovich, but with a western alliance on his side.
Military conflict does not really feature in any of this. There is a lot of high level pressure and sabre-rattling, with an underhand covert handing of advantage to the favored side, from either side; a political fencing game perhaps, with frequent attack and defence, but not a military conflict, the stakes are just not high enough. Even the stupidity of MH17 won't do that. It's likely that the fools just fucked up.
But of course the situation must be build up to make it appear that conflict precisely could just happen, otherwise nobody would take it seriously. If we don't, Ukraine will lose its eastern provinces in a snap, but perhaps that was always the better outcome. Save the nukes for another day. You just won't need them yet.

Jay's picture

Why is Obama now re-committing the U.S. military to Iraq? Why is France strongly backing military action? Obama says it’s to protect minorities. That’s nothing new, it's always about freedom and democracy. Obama is the fourth president in a row to bomb Iraq while claiming it is for humanitarian purposes. The architects of the Iraq War, which started in 2003, themselves admitted it was about oil.

Why are the U.S. and France deploying military force in Iraq now?

What does Russia have that Europe doesn't?

In a earlier post on this site I stated: "The man that controls the world's energy controls the world." Why does America want a war with Russia?