Russian humanitarian aid is not reaching affected areas in Ukraine, many border crossers told observers with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, according to a new report. OSCE observers at two Ukraine-Russia border checkpoints saw no military equipment move across the borders, but thousands of individuals cross over within the last week, the group’s latest report said.
“People crossing the border, in particular after the last Russian convoy, complained to [observers] that aid is not reaching those in need and that the OSCE should oversee the distribution of the aid,” the report said.
Around 60 trucks carrying 700 tons of relief supplies crossed the border into Ukraine on Jan. 8, according to Oleg Voronov, deputy head of Russia’s national crisis management center. Russian authorities have not allowed the OSCE or Red Cross to be involved in the aid missions, which Ukrainian officials have requested in the past. The aid deliveries have been ongoing since August.
The Ukrainian government accused the Russian military of delivering military equipment to pro-Russian rebels disguised as aid supplies, which has led to increased tensions and violence in eastern Ukraine. Some independent reports found no military equipment in the first few convoys sent across the border in August.
An average of 6,295 people crossed the border in both directions each day at the two checkpoints, located about 18 miles apart on the Russian border with Ukraine’s Luhansk oblast. Around 3,000 more people crossed into Russia than crossed into Ukraine, likely fleeing after weeks of increased violence. More than 5,000 people have died in the 10-month-old conflict, according to OSCE spokesperson Michale Bociurkiw.
A total of 493 people in “military style dress” crossed over the course of a week, mostly at the Donetsk crossing point, but no military equipment was observed. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accused Russia of operating 9,000 troops within his country's borders on Wednesday.
Russian border guards were seen inspecting vehicles and ensuring that vehicles like dump trucks were empty of valuable cargo. A number of long-distance buses were seen crossing from Ukraine into Russia.
Based on the OSCE’s figures, between 18,000 and 19,000 people cross the border to and from Russia’s Rostov oblast, which borders the vast majority of the border with the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.
The foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia agreed to fully implement a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine late Wednesday during high-level talks in Berlin. The Ukrainian military has been battling pro-Russian separatists in a brutal campaign in eastern Ukraine since the spring of 2014 and fighting continued on Thursday despite the agreed-upon ceasefire.
Most recently, between nine and 13 people were killed when a civilian bus in war-torn Donetsk was struck by an artillery shell, according to TIME.
While it appears that the two OSCE observed checkpoints have calmed, fighting continued Thursday at a third border point in Luhansk.