The first convoy of eight Ukrainian trucks departed for Kazakhstan through Russia on Tuesday, 19 January, Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade/Ukraine’s trade representative Natalia Mykolska announced this at a news briefing in Kyiv on Tuesday, the Interfax Ukraine news agency reports.

"All transit trucks have been redirected through Belarus since January 11. When they pass through the territory of the Russian Federation, they are forced to wait. There were expectations of a convoy, the GLONASS system, and seals. The first eight vehicles passed through the territory of the Russian Federation in a convoy today. We are monitoring them to understand whether our trucks can move further, reach their destination, and cross the border between Russia and Kazakhstan," she said.

According to her, the cost of the convoy is USD 350 per truck, a convoy consists of about 7-8 Ukrainian trucks, and, according to preliminary information from exporters, the convoys will travel every day.

"Most importantly, the Russian Federation continues to impede our exports because they have a new requirement – they are saying that the Ukrainian drivers of our trucks can enter the territory of the Russian Federation only through direct border crossings and not through Belarusian border crossings. That is, when our drivers enter Belarus and subsequently try to enter the Russian Federation, they are denied entry by the Russians and asked to hire Russian drivers," Mykolska said.

Thus, according to her, additional facts confirming Russian aggression are emerging every day.

Mykolska also said that information received on 18 January stated that 197 railcars were turned back from Russia to Ukraine, of which 128 railcars were diverted through Belarus and 21 have not yet been distributed.

As reported, the Russian government imposed restrictions on transit of goods from Ukraine to Kazakhstan through its territory on 1 January: the goods are to be transported through Belarus and only through two crossings on the border between Belarus and Russia and three on the border between Russia and Kazakhstan.

The restrictions on transit of Ukrainian goods through Russia were introduced after Russia canceled its free trade area with Ukraine on 1 January 2016 and imposed a food embargo. In response, the Ukrainian authorities have introduced mirror trade sanctions against Russia.