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Convoy fears remain despite inspection

Friday, August 15, 2014 - 02:25

Ukrainian border guards inspect a Russian aid convoy after a week of suspicion over the trucks' cargo. But fears of covert action from Moscow are still dogging markets, as Russian military vehicles mass near the border.

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After a week of suspicion and accusation, the contents of the mysterious Russian aid convoy have finally been revealed. Many of the trucks are in fact near-empty, others are carrying water and sacks of grain. Kiev feared the trucks could have been transporting arms to pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine. On this evidence though, the cargo appears harmless. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) DRIVER DMITRY PONOMARYOV, SAYING: "The cargo I'm driving is condensed milk. 10 pallets." The convoy is currently 20 kilometres shy of the border. Guards from the Ukrainian side have now been allowed to inspect the trucks before they go any further. If given the green light, they'll proceed to the embattled Luhansk region, where distribution will be managed by the Red Cross. Regional head Laurent Corbaz. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ICRC HEAD OF OPERATION FOR EUROPE AND CENTRAL ASIA, LAURENT CORBAZ, SAYING: "We have made it quite clear that should the procedures agreed upon be not respected, the ICRC has the right to first of all communicate on why things are going to according not a planned way and a right as well to stop the operation in the middle of it." Suspicions over Russia's intentions still remain. Dozens of military vehicles accompanied the convoy and are now massed near the Ukrainian border. There are also reports that armoured Russian vehicles crossed into Ukraine overnight. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY, PHILIP HAMMOND, SAYING: "The humanitarian convoy itself is a separate issue but if there are any Russian military personnel or vehicles in eastern Ukraine, they need to be withdrawn immediately or the consequences could be very serious." The situation is high on the agenda for European Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels. For markets though, the uncertainty is a good thing says Craig Erlam from Alpari. SOUNDBITE (English) CRAIG ERLAM, MARKET ANALYST, ALPARI, SAYING: "Maybe the idea that we're potentially going to get more stimulus from the ECB is overriding that at the moment. Just simply because it's uncertainty that there is here. There's no guarantee that what we're going to see is any kind of military invasion. That little bit of uncertainty is maybe what's holding people back from selling and running for these safe havens at this stage." Kiev blames Russia for the civilian suffering. But as Ukrainian forces close in on separatists, their plight is getting worse. Residents face shortages in food, water and electricity. One aid convoy has already reached the area, this one from Kiev. Another arrival - from Russia - now seems likely.

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Convoy fears remain despite inspection

Friday, August 15, 2014 - 02:25