As the first 30 trucks in the humanitarian convoy headed for war-torn eastern Ukraine, the residents of Lugansk - struggling daily without regular food supplies, water, electricity and under constant shelling - are looking forward to the aid relief.
On Friday, the Russian convoy crossed the Ukrainian border and started moving in the direction of Lugansk, after Moscow had ordered it to proceed, without waiting for further instructions or permission from Kiev.
Due to the electricity black-out and the lack of water, many local enterprises have to a halt in Lugansk. RT traveled to what used to be the area’s biggest bread-baking facilities and spoke with one of the employees, Vasily, who said that he doesn’t know how the locals get by.
“I don’t know why they are doing this, I stopped being afraid and just live my everyday life,” he told RT.
There are make-shift markets in the region, with most of the traders coming from neighboring villages, where the situation is a bit less catastrophic.
Lugansk residents come to the market to buy goods – or for exchange, as no payments have been made in the city over the past few weeks, and the prices are through the roof.
Queues form early in the morning, with people getting their numbers and waiting in long lines. When the food is brought, there isn’t enough, the locals say.
“People have nothing to eat,” Igor, a local elderly man, states miserably.
“Over three weeks – how is that possible? 250,000 people remain in the city – what are we left to do? We don’t have a single liter of water, no electricity, nothing,” Lyubov Ivanova, a Lugansk resident, exclaimed emotionally.
Therefore, the humanitarian aid which is coming from Russia is much needed, they say.
“Our damned fool of a president says that what Russia sends is nothing. How is that – 280 trucks coming to help us – it’s nothing for him!” Lyubov Fedorova, a Lugansk resident, told RT.
On Thursday, the International Red Cross representatives spoke of a very difficult humanitarian situation in Lugansk, after visiting the city to check it before the arrival of the Russian aid.
“There is no water, electricity, food supplies, people are cut off from the vital infrastructure. People are afraid to leave their homes because they can come under fire. Apart from that, the shelling targets residential areas sometimes which represents a danger for the civilian population,” the ICRC head in Europe and Asia Laurent Corbaz said.
The Ukrainian conflict has seen 118,000 internally displaced, according to UN estimates, and another 740,000 have reportedly fled to Russia.
1,300 have been killed since the conflict started, and more than 4,000 have been wounded.