Update as of 6:00 a.m. EDT: A Ukrainian convoy carrying refugees from the conflict-ridden region of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine was struck by rockets and mortars, allegedly fired by pro-Moscow rebels, BBC reported, citing Ukrainian military sources.
The report added that though the news was yet to be independently confirmed, Ukrainian officials blamed Russian separatists in Luhansk for the attack. As of now, the number of casualties remains unknown.
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) August 18, 2014
A convoy of about 280 Russian trucks, said to be carrying humanitarian aid to strife-torn regions in eastern Ukraine, will be allowed to cross the border in small numbers only after it is thoroughly inspected by border guards, Ukrainian officials said, according to media reports published Monday.
“The cargo, in agreement with the mission of the Red Cross, will be delivered to the international crossing point of Izvarino-Donetsk in batches of up to 30 vehicles,” Anatoliy Makarenko, head of the Ukrainian State Fiscal Service, reportedly said. He added that the trucks would be transferred “only to official representatives of the Red Cross.”
However, Red Cross officials, who are expected to reach the border crossing on Monday, said that they still had not received the security guarantees needed to allow the convoy to pass through, BBC reported Monday.
The United States and Kiev have expressed fears that that the convoy could be carrying arms for pro-Moscow rebels and could be used as a pretext for military action by Russia.
Meanwhile, talks in Berlin aimed at ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine ended shortly before midnight, local time, on Sunday. The discussions between the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France, which lasted for over five hours, were reportedly described as “difficult” by the German foreign minister.
“I hope and I believe that we made progress on a few points,” German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters after the talks. “The aim remains to bring about a ceasefire in Ukraine and to prevent future victims.”
Steinmeier reportedly said that a decision regarding the continuation of talks will be made by Tuesday, after the foreign ministers had consulted their respective governments.
However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that no progress was made during the discussions in Berlin, Agence France-Presse, or AFP, reported. "We are not able to report on positive results on reaching a ceasefire and on the political process," he reportedly said at a news conference held after the talks.
Russia's foreign ministry said that the parties would “continue dialogue in the same format with the goal to reach concrete suggestions for consideration,” according to a Russia Today report.
More than 2,000 civilians and soldiers have reportedly been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine since mid-April, when Ukraine's government sent troops to put down an uprising by pro-Russian separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.