Ukraine Forces 'Control Half of Slaviansk Territory'

World | May 2, 2014, Friday // 14:58|  views

Photo by EPA/BGNES

Ukrainain special forces claimed Friday to control "half of Slaviansk", hours after Kiev renewed its operation against pro-Russian separatists.

Officials from the Security Service of Ukraine regained significant parts of the city in what authorities describe as an "anti-terrorist" operation.

Security representatives reported ten checkpoints on the outskirts of Slaviansk were under their command, and locals already sent requests of help and protection to their headquarters, according to Russia's RIA Novosti agency.

Media reports cited by Ukrainian agency UNIAN meanwhile suggest that the US BuzzFeed author Mike Giglio and interpreter Elena Glazunova, who were earlier captured by rebels in Slaviansk, were released during the operation.

Friday's government-ordered storming of Slaviansk took a violent turn, as pro-Russian separatists were reported to have downed two Air Force combat helicopters, with one pilot dead and a serviceman injured.

Moscow has condemned Ukraine's operation in the south-east, with the Kremlin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov declaring that, “while Russia is taking measures to deescalate the conflict in Ukraine, the Kiev regime decided to use combat aviation on peaceful settlements, launched a punitive operation and thus killed all hope of viability of the Geneva agreement.”

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, on the other hand, has accused the separatists of being "professional mercenaries" using heavy weapons.

Earlier during the week, Ukraine's interim President Oleksandr Turchynov admitted his country's troops were "helpless" rebel-controlled regions.

Thursday, however, saw renewed preparations for storming into occupied buildings and sealed-off towns and cities across Donetsk and Luhansk.

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Tags: Ukraine, Russia, Slaviansk, Avakov, Peskov, Turchynov, anti-terrorist, checkpoints


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