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Donetsk: Ukraine ceasefire threatened by shelling in residential areas

200 lorries cross Russian border on supply trek to besieged Lugansk

Residential neighbourhoods in Donetsk came under repeated shelling over the weekend, imperilling a fragile ceasefire agreement made last week.

The city council said yesterday that two neighbourhoods in the north of the city had been repeatedly hit.

That part of Donetsk is closest to the government-held airport, which has seen intense fighting between rebel separatists and Kiev’s forces. 

Ukraine National Security and Defence Council spokesman Volodymyr Polyovyi claimed that government troops had repelled an attack on the airport by about 200 fighters during Saturday night. 

Meanwhile, a convoy of more than 200 white lorries crossed the Russian border on Saturday to deliver humanitarian aid to the battered Ukrainian city of Lugansk.

Tens of thousands have been without water, electricity, or phone connections for weeks in the crisis-hit city.

The convoy had entered Ukraine without Kiev’s consent, but no formal complaint was lodged.

“Early in the morning, we entered Ukraine to bring aid to Lugansk,” said Yury Stepanov, a Russian who was overseeing the convoy. 

“We came in around 215 vehicles,” he added, as workers `unloaded boxes into a local warehouse.

Mr Stepanov said the goods consisted mainly of foodstuffs — rice, sugar, canned fish and beef — but also included medicine, technical equipment and clothing. 

While dozens of local workers unloaded boxes, several carloads of armed militiamen in camouflage arrived to inspect the scene.

Mr Stepanov said his team was responsible only for delivery and distribution would be handled by the self-styled Lugansk People’s Republic.

Rebel official Gennady Tsepkalo said pensioners, hospital patients and schoolchildren would be priorities and the food would not be used to feed rebel fighters.

“The militia will feed itself separately. This is for the residents of the People’s Republic,” Mr Tsepkalo insisted.

Ukrainian military spokesman Colonel Andriy Lysenko said Russia’s move into Ukrainian territory was “illegal.”

Allowing more aid into the region was one component of the 12-point deal however.

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