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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukraine Liveblog Day 176

Publication: Ukraine Liveblogs
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russian TV Claims Convoy, Now in Voronezh, Flying Flags of ICRC

A report from TV 1, Russia's state news channel, shows footage of the convoy traveling through Tula Region and reaching Voronezh Region, where it will reportedly spend the night.

The anchor said the convoy was being accompanied by the Russian traffic police (GIBDD).

The trucks are painted white and have no license plates. Flags of two regions of the Russian Federation are on the trucks, and flags with the red cross are also visible. At 1:49, the news anchor says a "the flags of the International Committee of the Red Cross" are on the truck.

Flag-described-as-ICRC.jpg

The ICRC does not have a practice of allowing states to use its name, as distinct from the practice of using the red cross in wartime, which is governed by the Geneva Conventions, and is careful about authorizing consent for private organizations.


UPDATE: This video has been removed from YouTube, but the broadcast in which a TV1 anchor speaks of the "flag of the ICRC" can be seen on TV1's website.

Voronezh1.jpg

A citizen reporter uploaded a video of the convoy in Voronezh and labelled it as "humanitarian convoy" at about 19:25 Moscow time. We have confirmed the location, as the trucks pass the distinctive red Memorial to Glory in Voronezh at 0:25.


The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russian Humanitarian Convoy Spotted Going Through Tula

A local TV station in Tula, TeleTuva, reported today that the humanitarian convoy sent by the Russian government from a Moscow suburb has passed through their town. The YouTube is dated August 12, was uploaded about 7 hours ago, and is labelled "Convoy of trucks with humanitarian aid for the southeast of Ukraine passed through Tula."

If this is true, the convoy could reach the border checkpoint at Shebekino-Pletenevka agreed upon between Russian and Ukrainian governments in another few hours by tonight, not tomorrow morning as reported earlier -- depending on what route they take and whether they stop for breaks.

The vehicles are painted white, do not have license plates, and are topped by Russian flags or flags with a red cross.

Red-Cross-Flag.jpg


The video has the TeleTula logo on it and shows a billboard with a phone number and Internet address that track to a local business so it is likely to have been filmed in Tula.

Tula-.jpg


The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Evacuation Efforts In Lugansk Lack Buses

There are not enough buses in Lugansk to properly evacuate residents of the city, according to 0642.ua (translated by The Interpreter):

The Lugansk Regional Government Administration (OGA) is trying to organize the evacuation of people with the help of city transportation. However, the location of buses is not know, and they cannot get in touch with the deputy of the city mayor.

UNN reported this, citing Dmitry Alev, director of the department of mass communications of the Lugansk OGA.

"In the last 24 hours, volunteers from the organizations Spasyom Stranu ["We'll Save the Country"] will notify the population of Lugansk about the meeting place for departure from the city. All that we need for this place are the city buses. Moreover, we need fuel that would last at least for 15 kilometers in order to reaqch one of the Ukrainian checkpoints in the area of Metallist. But we don't know where to find that transport," said Alev.

He also said that Manolis Pilavov, deputy of the city mayor is currently in Lugansk, but could not be reached.

A total of 2,160 residents of Lugansk have made use of a humanitarian corridor and fled in private cars and vans in the last 4 days, the Lugansk Regional Government Administration reported, according to local news site 0642.ua.

As their report indicates, many of them have gone to the town of Schastye and other towns in the Lugansk region.

A total of 5,750 people have made use of the corridor since it was opened last week.

Authorities in Schastye were making sure there was enough food and drinking water for the newly-displaced. A center to register the displaced has been set up and hot-lines have been established.

Lugansk had a population of 427,634 before the war. 



The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
New Russian Official Statements On Aid Convoy Don't Answer Key Questions

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has released a statement saying that the Russian aid convoy headed to Ukraine will abide by Russia's agreement with the Ukrainian government (translated by The Interpreter):

Commentary from the Foreign Ministry Department Information and Press in Connection with the Humanitarian Aid to the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions

For the purposes of providing humanitarian aid to the residents of Donetsk and Lugansk Regions of Ukraine, Russia in agreement with the Ukrainian government and the International Committee of the Red Cross has sent humanitarian cargo, including food products, medicines, and electrical generators. In doing so, the Russian government has agreed to the wishes of the Ukrainian government on the route for the convoy, the inspection of the freight, and other modalities of implementation of the operation.

During the course of the humanitarian action, 262 vehicles are to be deployed, of which 198 vehicles with trailers are loaded with materials goods and electrical stations with a total weight of 1,809.9 tons.

The freight includes: 69 sets of electrical stations; 400 tons of various grains; 340 tons of canned meat; 30 tons of salt; 100 tons of sugar; 60 tons of canned milk; .8 tons of tea; 679.6 tons of bottled water; 62.4 tons of baby food; 54 tons of medical supplies; and 12,300 sleeping bags.

The delivery of this freight will be implemented as agreed between the Russian and Ukrainian governments at
the Shebekino-Pletnevka [sic] checkpoint on the border of Belgorod Region (Russian Federation) and Kharkiv Region (Ukraine). After crossing the Russian-Ukrainian border, the convoy will proceed under the aegis of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Russian government counts on the maximum assistance of the Ukrainian government in securing the safety of the delivery of the humanitary aid to the residents of Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine.

Taking into account the above, statements that have appeared from the Ukrainian government that supposedly the convoy's route of crossing was not agreed upon, and new logistical demands provoke perplexity. Taking into acocunt the existing agreements, we expect that the parameters for the delivery of the humanitarian cargo earlier agreed with the Ukrainian government will be fulfilled.

[Note: the Foreign Ministry misspelled the name of the town in Russian, which should be Pletenevka; in Ukrainian it is Pletenivka--The Interpreter].

Essentially, the pledge that this convoy is "under the aegis" of the Red Cross is no different than the language used by Moscow yesterday and seems to fly in the face of statements made by the ICRC that they don't know what's going on.

Note that there is no mention of the trucks being unloaded and reloaded. In an article published in ITAR-TASS after this statement was released, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that this condition was dropped:

Ukraine has decided against reloading relief supplies from the Russian humanitarian convoy after its examination on the border, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday. He said this idea had been proposed during the talks but then rejected.

“They insisted on reloading the cargo from all 287 trucks to the trucks to be provided by the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] but eventually gave it up for obvious reasons as this would have made the humanitarian mission more complicated and costlier,” Lavrov said.

Still, questions remain. Did the Ukrainian government really decide to have these vehicles enter Ukraine near Kharkiv and not near Lugansk? If so, was the thought that this would avoid separatist areas of control (and possible ambushes)? Where is this aid going if it is not ultimately destined for Lugansk? Why did the convoy leave from a suburb of Moscow and not Rostov, right near Ukrainian border? Why did the convoys gather on Russian military bases, and why did they paint  army vehicles instead of just renting trucks closer to the border? If it is really the Emergencies Ministry that organized this effort, why is there no information about this on their web site?

Russia now essentially says that once these vehicles reach Ukraine then Ukrainian government officials and the International Committee of the Red Cross will have control and access to the vehicles. Until that happens, though, plenty of questions remain unanswered, including one of the most important -- whether Russia will honor what they're pledging in official statements. 

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Red Cross Says It Still Does Not Know What's In Russia's Aid Convoy

A brief update from RFE/RL's liveblog:

We just spoke to an ICRC spokesman, Ewan Watson, about the convoy: "At the moment it is not an International Red Cross convoy, inasmuch as we haven't had sight of the material, we haven't had certain information regarding the content, and the volume of aid that it contains."  

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