KIEV — Ukraine set conditions for letting in Russian aid shipments to militia-held eastern regions as the UN said the death toll in the separatist conflict nearly doubled to more than 2,000 in two weeks.
After earlier vowing to block a massive Russian convoy headed for its borders, Kiev said on Wednesday it could allow the aid to enter the country after it was inspected by Ukrainian border guards and foreign monitors.
Ukraine has raised fears the convoy of nearly 300 lorries could be a "Trojan horse" bringing military help to pro-Moscow insurgents who launched a rebellion in the country's east.
Tensions have risen as the convoy rumbled toward the border, with Western capitals fearing it could spark an escalation in a conflict that has already brought ties with Russia to their lowest point since the Cold War.
But as the humanitarian crisis in the east worsened, President Petro Poroshenko's office suggested the much-needed aid could be allowed in to avoid what it called a "large-scale invasion" by Russia.
The proposal would allow aid for the hard-hit eastern city of Lugansk "to cross over the nearest border post" after it had been checked by Ukrainian officials and monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), presidential spokesman Svyatoslav Tsegolko said.
The mission would then be allowed to travel across rebel-controlled territory to Lugansk where the "Red Cross would distribute aid to civilians," he said.
It was unclear if the lorries or just their content would be allowed into Ukraine. The OSCE could not confirm if it would be involved. — AFP