ON HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN UKRAINE (by Ambassador Yakovenko, for Russia Today)

The situation in Ukraine gradually leads to a humanitarian catastrophe. It is aggravating every day. Russia sees it as its duty to expand assistance to refugees from Ukraine, displaced persons and to the Ukranians who stay in the conflict-torn areas.
Russia is extending humanitarian assistance to the people of the southeastern part of Ukraine without formal agreement of the Ukranian authorities. Moscow has asked Kiev for such an agreement but our request has been denied. At the same time, the Ukranian side does not take any measures to help people. It hinders creation of corridors for the people to leave the country.
Recently, tens of tons of humanitarian aid have been sent to southeastern Ukraine. Charity events take place in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod and other Russian cities with the aim of collecting humanitarian aid for Ukraine. Authorities of some of the regions of Russia have opened charity accounts to raise funds for the Ukrainians of the conflict affected region.
During the session of the interim committee of the Federation Council on the monitoring of the situation in Ukraine which took place on June 17 the decision was approved to set up a committee on the popular support of the people of southeastern Ukraine. The committee headed by Mr. N.Ryzhkov will be coordinating humanitarian efforts, including the supplies of medicine, food, construction materials to the people of the southeastern regions of Ukraine.
It is estimated that around 140 thousand Ukrainian refugees are already in Russia now. Their number is expected to increase. Refugee camps are set up on the territory of the South Federal District and Central Federal District. The continuous flow of refugees made it necessary to declare an emergency situation in the Rostov region, as well as in the territories bordering Ukraine, from June 4.
Ukraine's President Poroshenko announced a 14-point peace plan to settle down the situation in southeastern regions. The document, calling for disarmament in eastern Ukraine was unveiled after Mr. Poroshenko held several phone conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. As Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed out, Russia has always supported ceasefire, but it is only the first step. The main thing is to start a dialogue without ultimatums and taking into account the position of those who really controls the situation in the southeastern regions of Ukraine, in order to achieve genuine settlement. We also noted the need for Kiev to take constructive stance on the pricing of Russian gas.