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Large convoy of Russian aid headed for E. Ukraine


08-15-2014 14:48 BJT

At least one person is dead after artillery shells hit near the center of Ukraine’s anti-government forces held city of Donetsk. This, as a large convoy of Russian humanitarian aid drove through southern Russia headed for eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian government says it will not allow the convoy to cross its border until the cargo is cleared.

After huge speculation, a small part of Russia’s secretive convoy finally opens to journalists. Lifting the truck’s white spray-painted sheets, reveals the army green underneath. In the box they open for us — sleeping bags.

After failing to cross through a Ukrainian checkpoint further north, the convoy, of at least 260 trucks, sets off more than 400 kilometers away in Voronezh. Only one driver agreed to go on camera.

"It’s very hot, you see what the temperature is, nearly 40 degrees. So it’s very difficult and it’s very hard to drive in such conditions. But we need to do it, because we need to help everyone, so we’re doing our job," said Maxim Selim, a Russian convoy driver.

As they moved south, still in Russia but closer to the fighting in eastern Ukraine, signs of a military presence. Then, after they turn towards the border, they stop.

The drivers here are parking up their trucks and unpacking little bags and going for a shower. They’ve been driving since very early morning but now they’ve parked up here in this makeshift car park that’s been made by army bulldozers.

Many questions remain, over such things as who the self-titled volunteers manning the convoy are, some sporting Russian military tattoos.

Official information is still scarce. Russia dismisses claims that its convoy is a ploy to send military supplies to anti-Kiev rebels. And, there is continuing confusion over the final destination.

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