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Success of Russian Convoy Raises Questions

In spite of Western resistance, both of Russia’s controversial aid convoys have successfully completed their missions into Ukrainian territory. What does this mean for the future?

Update: A second Russian convoy successfully crossed the Ukrainian border and delivered aid to Luhansk.

The Convoy

A convoy of about 200 trucks  completed its journey into Ukraine after being stopped in Voronezh. This is the latest in a series of defiant moves by Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The convoy delivered its supplies to Luhansk, sans Red Cross evaluation which was previously stipulated by the Ukrainian government and NATO. Initially the Red Cross was hesitant to provide assistance, citing lack of information regarding safety guarantees.

The Region

According to the UN, more than 2000 people have been killed in the region of Eastern Ukraine since April, and another 4,400 have been injured–though the real number, the report states, is likely much higher.

A senior UN human rights official states that the situation has grown “extremely alarming,” reports the UN News Center. Damage to infrastructure, increasing death tolls, and intensified fighting are all hallmarks of a worsening situation for Eastern Ukraine.

ukraine map convoy

Civilians are reportedly pinned down by much of the violence and continue to lose their lives. Ban Ki-Moon, secretary general of the UN stated, “Restoring vital infrastructure, not least for water and sanitation, is essential for a return to normal life,” according to the UN news center.

Facts according to the UN:

  • 486 Ukrainian soldiers killed
  • Nearly 300,000 Ukrainian nationals forced from their homes this year
  • 117,000 displaced inside Ukraine
  • 168,000 Ukrainians have fled to Russia

German president Angela Merkel has donated 500 million euros (about $690 million) for reconstruction of damaged Ukrainian infrastructure and humanitarian efforts according to the New York Times.

The Situation

Though the aid was of dire importance to those pinned down by the ongoing violence, NATO warns that Russia’s humanitarian convoy may be a guise for a Ukraine invasion according to the BBC.[contextly_auto_sidebar id=”qjF7SFRXGiT0Fft3EDf5eOjhFaB0P3St”]

Though, so far, the aid has been delivered without any major consequences, the Ukrainian Government and NATO remain skeptical of Russian involvement–especially following recent artillery shelling on Ukrainian soldiers.

In the way of Ukrainian aid,  Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has given $770,000 (10 million hryvnia) to relief funds, helping areas which have been retaken from separatists. Additionally there is a $6 million international fund.

The Plan

According to the New York Times, Russia has announced that it will send another convoy into Ukraine, the details of which have yet to be explained.

Meanwhile in the cities where fighting has been most concentrated–particularly the city of Luhansk–250,000 residents are cut off from basic services like power, water, and sewage, reports The New York Times.

Hunkered down in powerless buildings, inhabitants of Luhansk continue to bear relentless shelling from Russian Separatists. A  report from VICE News uncovers firsthand accounts of the violence there.

The second convoy is set to start it’s journey sometime this week.

updated

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James Pero