News / Europe

More Ukrainian Soldiers Killed; France, Germany Press Putin

  • Ukrainian troops are pictured near Slovyansk, July 11, 2014.
  • A Ukrainian rocket launcher is seen near the eastern Ukrainian city of Seversk, July 11, 2014.
  • Ukrainian paratroopers sit on top an APC in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, July 10, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian separatist fighters from the so-called Battalion Vostok (East) sit in a truck as they leave a base in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, July 10, 2014.
  • A woman walks past a building damaged by shelling in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, July 10, 2014.
  • Buildings damaged by a recent shelling are seen in the eastern Ukrainian village of Semenovka, July 9, 2014.
  • People wait for humanitarian medical aid near the mayor's office in Soavyansk, Ukraine, July 9, 2014.
  • Local citizens collect potatoes distributed by the Ukrainian army in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, July 9, 2014.
  • An armed man stands guard as people wait for humanitarian medical aid near the mayor's office in Slovyansk, Ukraine, July 9, 2014.
Images from Ukraine
VOA NewsReuters

Ukrainian forces regained more ground but sustained further casualties on Thursday in clashes with separatists, while two Western allies urged Russia's Vladimir Putin to exert more pressure on the rebels to find a negotiated end to the conflict.

Government forces have recently gained the upper hand in the three-month conflict against separatists in the Russian-speaking eastern regions in which more than 200 government troops have been killed as well as hundreds of civilians and rebel fighters.

The Ukrainian military says it has a plan to deliver a “nasty surprise” to the heavily-armed separatists who have dug in in Donetsk, a city of 900,000 people, after being pushed out of their bastion in Slovyansk over the weekend.

In a further success, military spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov said government forces on Thursday re-took the town of Siversk, east of Slovyansk, when separatists fled.

A separatist confirmed the government's version saying it was “more or less correct.” “There was no sense in holding [Siversk] and reinforcing it because there was a big risk of being encircled.”

But casualties mounted on the Ukrainian side with the deaths of three more Ukrainian soldiers in two attacks on Wednesday night in different parts of the east, the military said.

One was killed in an ambush of a military convoy near Luhansk, while two others died when an armored personnel carrier was blown up by a landmine in the village of Chervona Zorya near Donetsk.

Government forces guarding Donetsk's main international airport, scene of bitter fighting in late May, came under mortar fire on Thursday but the rebel attack was repelled, Seleznyov said.

Reports of torture

Amnesty International says it has "graphic and compelling evidence" of beatings and torture in eastern Ukraine, and it says armed pro-Russian separatists are responsible for the bulk of the violence.

In a report late Thursday, the rights group says victims are "often subjected to stomach turning beatings and torture."  It also says there is evidence of a smaller number of abuses by pro-Kyiv forces.

The report says the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission for Ukraine has recorded 222 abductions since April, when separatists seeking autonomy in the east launched their rebellion against the Kyiv government.

Amnesty says abductions have taken place across eastern Ukraine targeting police and local officials.  It also cites violence against journalists, politicians, activists, business people and members of electoral commissions.

The report also cites recent Ukrainian military gains in the east, and says captives held by separatists are now being freed by Ukrainian forces almost daily.  It says the number of "disturbing" cases is increasing as pro-Kyiv forces gain more ground and free more captives.  It also says those cases are being "meticulously" documented and that perpetrators will be brought to justice.

Putting onus on Putin

In further international diplomacy to end the worst Russia-West crisis since the Cold War, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Putin by telephone to “exert all necessary pressure on the separatists to bring them to negotiate effectively,” an Elysee Palace statement said.

They also asked him to use his influence to take concrete steps to ensure control of the border where, the Kyiv government says, Russian authorities have been turning a blind eye to fighters crossing with weapons and equipment to help the rebels.

Moscow protested to Kyiv on Thursday after it said Ukrainian military fired on a Russian border checkpoint. The Foreign Ministry said it was not the first time the border post at Gukovo had come under fire.

Moscow is under sanctions by the United States and the European Union over the Ukraine crisis but denies it is supporting the rebels in the Russian-speaking east of Ukraine.

Russia on Thursday condemned a European Union plan to extend the list of persons, including Russians, targeted with asset freezes and travel bans as an unfriendly move that would hinder ties with the 28-nation bloc.

The EU has agreed to add 11 new names to the list likely to take effect on Saturday, an EU diplomat said on Wednesday.

The rebellions began in April after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula following the overthrow of a Moscow-backed president by mass street protests in Kyiv.

Ukraine's border guard service reported that six Russian helicopters had flown some distance over the border into Ukraine on Wednesday and then returned home in what it described as “direct provocations in support of the terrorists.”

In its version of the three-way telephone call, the Kremlin said the three leaders had agreed on the need for a “swift renewal” of the ceasefire and another round of peace talks involving the “contact group” and separatist leaders.

New fighters

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko refused to prolong a 10-day unilateral ceasefire when it expired on June 30 and ordered a resumption of the military offensive against the rebels resulting in Slovyansk being re-taken over the weekend.

His security chiefs say the rebels repeatedly breached the government's unilateral ceasefire, resulting in many Ukrainian military deaths, and have ruled out any more such truces until the rebels lay down their arms.

Rebels in Donetsk, commanded by a Russian military adventurer called Igor Girkin or Strelkov, say they are recruiting new fighters to resist government forces.

Buoyed by the success in Slovyansk, Ukrainian security officials say they have a plan ready to crush the rebels in Donetsk though Poroshenko has ruled out air strikes and artillery bombardment because of the large civilian population.

The separatists are occupying administrative buildings in both Donetsk and Luhansk and are dug in on the outskirts of Donetsk.

Thousands of people have fled Donetsk, a major industrial hub and Euro-2012 football site, since the onset of the conflict and many businesses are closing down.

With armed men out on the streets, tension is growing in the city. Several social groups came together on Thursday to call on townspeople to join in a daily prayer session at noon every day from next Monday.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: meanbill from: USA
July 10, 2014 11:26 AM
RUMOR HAS IT? ... that Putin was sending an engineering team to the US, (to study how the US sealed their border with Mexico), to keep illegal immigrants, and criminals out of the US, and would build the same kind of fence the US has, on the Ukraine border? .... Obama is going to show the Russians, how the US does it, (step by step), the Obama way?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs