Russian Aid Convoy Advances Toward Ukraine

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -
First trucks of the Russian aid convoy stand in the Russian inspection zone inside a border control point with Ukraine in the Russian town of Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Thursday. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
First trucks of the Russian aid convoy stand in the Russian inspection zone inside a border control point with Ukraine in the Russian town of Donetsk, Rostov-on-Don region, Russia, Thursday. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Fierce fighting raged in eastern Ukraine on Thursday in what appeared to be a last-gasp attempt by government troops to snatch back territory from pro-Russian separatists before the arrival of a Russian aid convoy overseen by the Red Cross.

Trucks loaded with water, generators and sleeping bags for desperate civilians in the besieged city of Luhansk began moving through Ukrainian customs after being held up at the border for a week, in part because of safety concerns and Ukrainian fears that the convoy’s arrival could halt the military’s advance.

The trucks in the 200-vehicle convoy were expected to cross into Ukraine on Friday morning on their way to Luhansk, a city with a war-reduced population of a quarter-million people, 12 miles from the Russian border.

At Russia’s urging, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a cease-fire during the humanitarian mission.