Russia reaches deal on Ukraine aid with Kiev: Lavrov

11th August 2014, Comments 0 comments

Russia said Monday it had reached an agreement with Ukraine on providing humanitarian aid to rebel-held cities in the country's east, but there was no immediate confirmation from Kiev.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he hoped Western countries would not "interfere" in the agreement, amid concerns Russia could use humanitarian assistance as a pretext for a military intervention.

"Today all of the possible and impossible pretexts (for not letting Russian aid through) have been lifted," Lavrov was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.

"I hope that very soon this humanitarian action will take place under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross. We have agreed all details with the Ukrainian leadership. I hope that Western partners won't interfere."

A spokesman for the Ukrainian presidency declined to comment immediately on Lavrov's statement.

Russia has pushed for a humanitarian ceasefire in eastern Ukraine as Kiev's forces have encircled large rebel-held cities in the region, but Western countries fear that Moscow will use the aid mission as cover for sending in troops it has reportedly massed at the border.

On Saturday Britain said "a so-called humanitarian mission would be unjustified and illegal", after Prime Minister David Cameron discussed the matter with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who also spoke on the issue with US President Barack Obama.

"If it is true that... three leaders agreed that southeastern Ukraine does not need humanitarian aid because all measures are already being taken, then that is flagrant cynicism," Lavrov said.

Ukrainian troops have moved in on Donetsk, the largest city in eastern Ukraine, pounding neighbourhoods with shelling in an attempt to drive out pro-Russian separatists.

© 2014 AFP

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