- POSTED: 23 Aug 2014 14:57
- UPDATED: 23 Aug 2014 15:19
The first lorries from Moscow's controversial aid convoy to rebel-held parts of Ukraine began returning to Russia on Saturday (Aug 23), OSCE monitors said.
MOSCOW: The first lorries from Moscow's controversial aid convoy to rebel-held parts of Ukraine began returning to Russia on Saturday (Aug 23), OSCE monitors said.
Paul Picard, the acting head of the mission observing the Russian border post known as Donetsk, told AFP some of the vehicles had begun passing through but could not provide a number.
"The customs inspection has already been completed for the first group of 34 vehicles, and they have returned into Russia," RIA Novosti news agency later quoted customs agency official Rayan Farushkin as saying. He said six groups of vehicles were expected to cross back.
After waiting on the Russian side of the border for a week as Moscow, Kiev and the International Committee of the Red Cross tried to come to agreement on the convoy's passage, the lorries rolled across the border Friday without Ukrainian permission or Red Cross monitors. OSCE monitors counted only 227 vehicles as having crossed the border in six groups, according to a statement published on Friday, while Russia had previously said there were 280 lorries in the convoy.
Russia had previously let journalists look inside a handful of the lorries, which it said were carrying around 1,800 tonnes of aid including food, water, medicine and electrical generators.The lorries unloaded their cargo in rebel-held Lugansk late on Friday, according to Russian state television.