MOSCOW, August 21 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov on Thursday urged an immediate ceasefire between conflicting parties in eastern Ukraine to allow for the safe passage of the aid convoy stranded on the border.
Antonov voiced his plea for peace during a meeting with Laurent Corbaz, the Red Cross head of operations for Europe and Central Asia. The Red Cross is to escort the Russian humanitarian convoy to allay western fears of a military operation under the guise of a relief mission.
“We underscored a pressing need for the warring parties to announce a ceasefire in order to secure safe passage of the humanitarian convoy, which could be the first step towards talks on a comprehensive settlement,” the ministry’s press office said.
According to the statement, Antonov praised the Red Cross’s organizing role in delivering the aid to the affected regions. The relief organization said earlier in the day it hoped to see the humanitarian cargo on its way to Ukraine’s easternmost Luhansk region on Friday.
United Nation’s Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and relief agency’s chief Valerie Amos on Thursday also called for a ceasefire to deliver humanitarian aid to residents of war-torn southeast Ukraine.
A convoy of some 280 trucks carrying 2,000 tons of cargo is currently undergoing customs checks on the Russian-Ukrainian border.