News / Europe

9 Killed in Fighting in Eastern Ukraine

  • A convoy of International forensic experts and members of the OSCE mission in Ukraine approach an exploded bridge, outside Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Aug. 3, 2014, as they travel to of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane crash site.
  • Australian and Dutch experts examine an area at the scene of the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane near the village of Rossipne, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Aug. 3, 2014.
  • A convoy of refrigerated trucks loaded with bodies of the passengers of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 arrives at a Kharkiv factory in Kharkiv, Aug. 3, 2014.
  • Ukrainian security officer looking through a closed gate as a convoy of refrigerated trucks loaded with bodies of passengers of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 arrives at a Kharkiv factory in Kharkiv, Aug. 3, 2014.
  • Australian experts examine the area of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane crash in the village of Hrabove, Donetsk region, Aug. 1, 2014.
  • Ukrainian servicemen check their weapons as they guard at a checkpoint near the town of Debaltseve in Donetsk region, Aug. 2, 2014.
  • Ukrainian servicemen guard a checkpoint in the town of Debaltseve, in Donetsk region, Aug. 2, 2014.
  • Ukrainian servicemen, who are members of an artillery section, gather near a cannon being fired during a military operation against pro-Russian separatists near Pervomaisk, Luhansk region, Aug. 2, 2014.
Images from Ukraine, Aug. 3, 2014
VOA News

Deadly clashes between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists continued Sunday as investigators searched the site of a plane crash for a third day.

Local officials in Donetsk say six people were killed there in shelling between the two sides. An official tells Reuters news agency three other people were killed in Luhansk.

A Reuters reporter in central Donetsk said the shelling echoed through the night and witnesses said several buildings caught fire in the outlying Petrovsky district, including a school. The smell of smoke stretched as far as the city center.

Many residents of Luhansk, which is close to the border with Russia, have no electricity and some are without water, the city administration's press office said.

Rebels forced into Luhansk, Donetsk

Advances by the Ukrainian army have forced the rebels out of most of the towns they had occupied in Russian-speaking east Ukraine and squeezed them mainly into Luhansk, which had a population of about 400,000 before the conflict, and Donetsk, which had about 1 million residents.

The Ukrainian military said it had suffered no losses in the latest fighting.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian military operation, Alexei Dmitrashkovsky, told The Associated Press that government soldiers were fighting Sunday to hold positions they had taken on the edge of Donetsk, but were meeting resistance.

Diplomatic efforts to end the conflict, in which in the United Nations says more than 1,100 people have been killed, have stalled.

Remains headed to Netherlands

Meanwhile, the remains of more victims from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 arrived in Kharkiv Sunday to be prepared for transportation to the Netherlands.

The head of the Dutch police mission working at the crash site, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, said in a statement late Saturday that crews have finished searching one of five zones of the crash site. He said completing the search will take at least three weeks.

On Saturday, international investigators recovered the remains of more victims at the site of the Malaysia Airlines wreckage.

The team of 70 Dutch and Australian investigators worked scoured parts of the 20 square kilometer crash site, despite nearby fighting. Some of the investigators had to delay their search because of the clashes.

The investigators, along with officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, are focusing on recovering several dozen bodies still missing more than two weeks after the Malaysian plane was shot down, killing all 298 passengers and crew. Most of the victims were Dutch.

Dutch and Australian forensic experts and police were examining debris in the village of Rozsypne, a few kilometers (miles) from the main wreckage.

Roads to the crash site were for days too dangerous to use because of fighting, but the experts finally got there on Friday and hope to recover the last of the victims' remains. The victims included 196 Dutch, 27 Australians and 43 Malaysians.

Shelling nearby forced the experts to stop their search for human remains on Saturday in one area where debris was found, but they were able to work unhindered at the main site.

US reaction

On Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama said he spoke by telephone with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, with Obama saying the United States remains deeply concerned about Moscow's increased support for the separatists in Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Obama said he discussed his preference for a diplomatic solution with the Russian leader. Obama, however, said there are limits to what the United States can do.

"Right now what we've done is impose sufficient costs on Russia that objectively speaking they should, President Putin should want to resolve this diplomatically," he said.

"Get these sanctions lifted. Get their economy growing again and have good relations with Ukraine; but sometimes people don't always act rationally and they don't always act based on their medium- or long-term interests. That can't deter us though. We just have to stay at it," Obama added.

White House officials said the two leaders "agreed to keep open their channels of communication."

Russian officials said Putin told the U.S. president that fresh sanctions imposed on Russia for its support for the separatists were "counterproductive" and would cause "serious damage to bilateral cooperation and international stability."

Ukraine and Western governments blame pro-Russian rebels for the shootdown of the Boeing 777. 

Moscow denies the accusation and blames the disaster on Kiev.

U.S. analysts said the jetliner likely was downed by pro-Russian separatists launching a Russian missile, thinking the jetliner was a Ukrainian military aircraft.  

Rebels intent on establishing autonomous republics near the Russian border have been battling Ukrainian troops for three months.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
by: Richard Mc from: North Carolina
August 03, 2014 9:20 PM
Girkin tweeted a week ago that he was only able to raise 1100 volunteers from the Donetsk region. Presumably a similar number were raised in the other province. That would mean that at least 80% or the 10-15,000 'rebels' came from Russia. These are a mixture of true volunteers, mercenaries paid by rich Russian, black forces the Russians have employed elsewhere (e.g., Bosnia), and, some believe, regular Russian troops. The average training and experience of these Russians is much better than that of the Russian army in general. The Russians have also been lavish in equipping them. The Ukrainian army has made a comeback that will be written about in military history books of the future. However, they do need to end the conflict as quickly as possible. I would expect violent fighting rather than a protracted siege. The main problem is money. The Ukraine really needs a greater force in reserve than the one fighting at this time. They don't have the money to do that. That's risky for them. In particular, they need to activate their enormous surface-to-air missile reserves to make air attack too costly for Russia to try.
In Response

by: vano from: usa
August 04, 2014 5:37 AM
Mr. Richard Mc why don't you want to send your money you so worried about to poor Ukrainian soldiers fighting for the " freedom" of there country ???

by: John Byrne from: USA
August 03, 2014 12:08 PM
There is amazement on the civility of this conflict - here has been no violence in Ukraine out side of the 'breakaway' territory.
Actually the separatists only want to have self determination, something that is the right of all people. This is a mess, and it is sad that so much blood and treasure will and has been expended on a situation that has occurred in the Balkans - the case of Kosovo comes up, where this region was taken from Serbia. I hope there is very soon a resulution to this situation, and not an expansion.

by: ak from: usa
August 03, 2014 11:24 AM
So US Wants Russia to secure border with Ukraine to stop flow of weapons...after they told them to move all the Russian troops the away from the 1426 mile border.So how do they expect Russia to do that if they them self's cant secure their south border with all the technology and money they have and spend...I think there is more to this story
In Response

by: Dave from: USA
August 05, 2014 1:45 AM
Lugansk and Donetsk are nearly empty because of mortar shower by Ukrainian military. Already more than 1400 civilians got killed by mortar attack. EU keep supplying Ukraine with more weapons.

When five people died in violent protest in Syria, US & UK were crying mass murder. Now more than 1400 killed in Ukraine by military, more than 1500 killed in Gaza, and not a peep from US or UK about this massive civilian deaths.

I suppose it is okay as long as US or its partners in crime are behind the bloodshed.
In Response

by: tk from: usa
August 03, 2014 12:38 PM
You have to live there to understand it. It is not easy to say secure the border. There really is no border and nothing left of Lugansk. It is a ghost town that will never regain life. Those that have not left, will mostly not live through this. It is too late to secure anything. There is nothing there worth securing, but an empty city. Same will happen in Donetsk.

by: meanbill from: USA
August 03, 2014 11:07 AM
UKRAINE must win this war (as promised) before winter, (because), most of their troops are inexperienced drafted civilians without winter uniforms, and when armies push to fast, disaster always happens, (because), armies don't quit fighting at wintertime anymore..... "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu?

by: Robert Furst from: Florida, USA
August 03, 2014 10:44 AM
Ukrainw belongs to Russia, the Ukrainians are occupiers
In Response

by: Peter Aretin from: Boulderia
August 03, 2014 11:38 AM
That's right. Ukrainians lived in the the region of Lower Slobbovia until the Great Potato Famine of 1934, caused when Stalin confiscated the potato crop to make beet-flavored vodka. Lower Slobbovians migrated in great numbers to Nastya, as Ukraine was then called, when the vodka market collapsed in '35. In 1954, Khruschev granted the region independence,
because he couldn't think of anything else to do with it.

by: Ken from: vancouver
August 03, 2014 10:34 AM
Obama and Kerry need to stop acting like the great white knights out to save the planet. This situation was sparked by the US exciting an overthrow of a democratically elected government to suit its own expansionist policies. As in the middle east, the US is responsible for senseless suffering and loss of life. The real criminals reside in Washington.
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
August 03, 2014 12:12 PM
The US has politically interfered in the countries of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, and now Ukraine, bringing nothing but violence, killings, destruction and wars, and the wars continue on to this day.... (They say power corrupts, and the US is the greatest power on earth, ad it corrupts ever country it interferes in)..

by: harley
August 03, 2014 10:23 AM
Lies and propaganda.

by: Greg Walker from: Pacific northwest
August 03, 2014 10:02 AM
I am sure President Putin was deeply influenced by Obama ' s call.
In Response

by: Gd from: New york
August 03, 2014 10:25 AM
It saddens me that we run such a sloppy and bloody op in ukraine, Libya, Syria , and now iraq, egypt still recoverig, and now we got hungry enter the fray....

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