Ukraine president says ‘many’ pro-Russians killed, wounded in crackdown

May 2, 2014 | By | Reply More

May 02, – “Many” pro-Russian fighters have been killed as Ukraine launched its first major offensive against rebel forces that have seized official buildings across the country’s east.

hromedia Ukraine 'Many' insurgents killed in Slovyansk eu news5Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said two Ukrainian soldiers were killed and seven wounded in clashes that saw two Ukrainian helicopters shot down.

But he said many insurgents had been killed and injured and that the army now controlled all of the checkpoints around Slavyansk.

The Kremlin said Kiev’s offensive against the insurgents had “destroyed” the two-week-old Geneva agreement on cooling Ukraine’s crisis.

A spokeswoman for the pro-Russian militants also said one of their men was killed and another injured.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov urged local residents to stay indoors during the “anti-terrorist operation” in rebel-held Slavyansk early Friday morning.

he said the city was “tightly surrounded” after government troops seized nine rebel-held road checkpoints.

“Against Ukraine’s special forces, terrorists used heavy artillery, including grenade launchers and portable anti-aircraft missile launchers,” Mr Avakov said.

Vyacheslav Ponomarev, the insurgency-appointed mayor of Slavyansk, said self-defence forces had shot down two helicopters and taken one person hostage.

Shoulder-launched missiles had downed the aircraft, according to the Ukrainian defence ministry.

A third helicopter, said to be carrying carrying medical staff, was also hit and one person wounded, according to the ministry.

Ukrainian officials believe the use of such heavy weaponry proves Russian forces are in the area – something repeatedly denied by Moscow.

Separatist forces were still reported to be firmly in control of Slavyansk’s streets, with Ukrainian armoured vehicles restricted to the city’s outskirts.

The offensive by the Ukrainian government marks the first significant military response by Kiev.

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said the “punitive operation” had destroyed a peace plan agreed with Western powers in Geneva last month.

“While Russia is making efforts to de-escalate and settle the conflict, the Kiev regime moved combat air forces against peaceful settlements, began a reprisal raid, essentially finishing off the last hope for the feasibility of the Geneva accords,” Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

Officials have been criticised for being slow to act to stop the pro-Russian forces seizing swathes of its Donbass coal and steel belt.

The armed groups seeking union with Moscow have seized a number of government buildings in towns in eastern Ukraine.

Press journalist for HRO Media – Norberto Lluch contributed to this report.

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Category: European Crises

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