DONETSK, Russia — After nearly a week of inaction, a Russian aid convoy destined for the besieged, rebel-controlled Ukrainian city of Luhansk rumbled to life Wednesday, with 16 of its trucks passing through a Russian border checkpoint.
Before heading to Luhansk, though, the trucks still have to be checked by Ukrainian border guards and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said Sergei Karavaytsev, an officer in Russia's Emergencies Ministry.
There is no telling how long that might take, he said, nor did he know whether there were guarantees of safe passage from the Ukrainian government or the rebels who control both the border and the road to Luhansk.
However, Red Cross officials said they had received guarantees of security overnight from parties to the fighting along the road to Luhansk, a spokesman for the agency said, and were preparing to get the convoy under way.
As an added complication, the Ukrainian government said Wednesday it had wrested control of significant parts of Luhansk from the rebels, after prolonged shelling and days of street fights that have killed at least 52 people.
Russia has said the trucks are carrying water, canned meats, baby food and other products, but reporters who have been shown the trucks say that many are only half-filled. The aid convoy left Moscow on Aug. 12 but had been stuck for days at the border near the Russian town of Rostov because authorities in Kiev said they feared that it was a cover for Russian military intervention to help pro-Russian rebels.