News / Europe

Ukraine Forces Prepare to Retake Donetsk

FILE - Russian Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jets are seen in flight.
FILE - Russian Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jets are seen in flight.
VOA News

Ukraine's Defense Council says preparations are under way to retake the rebel-controlled eastern city of Donetsk — the last stronghold of heavily armed pro-Russian separatists seeking autonomy from Kyiv.

Defense spokesman Andriy Lysenko did not provide details. But he said the military has opened humanitarian corridors for city residents to flee the planned offensive, and that the government will help evacuees find temporary shelter.

As Lysenko spoke Monday, Moscow — which has demanded a halt to the Ukraine offensive near its border — launched a massive show of military strength just inside Russian territory. Russian authorities say the five-day military operation will involve 100 warplanes, helicopters and anti-aircraft batteries.

Russian officials said the military began exercises Monday in the central and western regions of the country, which would include the Ukraine border region.

The officials say the drills involving more than 100 fighter jets and helicopters will last through Friday.

While the announcement did not mention Ukraine, the military exercises could increase tensions in the already volatile region.  

The United States and its European allies accuse Russia of arming pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, as well as building up military forces along the border with Ukraine and cross-border shelling.

On Sunday, deadly clashes between Ukrainian government forces and separatists continued as investigators searched the site of the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 for a third day.

Local officials in the city of Donetsk said six people were killed there in shelling between the two sides. Three other people were killed in Luhansk. The two eastern Ukrainian cities are the last remaining significant pro-Russian separatist strongholds.

Russia to deploy peacekeepers?

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council said Monday that Russia cannot unilaterally deploy peacekeeping forces in Ukraine, noting that such deployments are the "strict prerogative" of the U.N. Security Council and that both sides to the conflict must consent.

"So far, there has been no U.N. statement, nor have the sides given their consent," Andriy Lysenko told reporters in Kyiv.

On Sunday, Lysenko reported that the Russian military had deployed 34 armored vehicles "marked with the symbols of a peacekeeping contingent" near a village in Russia's Bryansk region on the border with Ukraine.

Late last month, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken said there had been "a significant re-buildup of Russian forces along the border, potentially positioning Russia for a so-called humanitarian or peacekeeping intervention in Ukraine."

On Monday, Russia's Itar-Tass state news agency quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying he had officially appealed to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Council of Europe, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the U.N. "to organize something like an international humanitarian mission" to get aid to the areas in and around Luhansk and Donetsk.

MH17 recovery efforts

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 says crews have finished searching one of five zones of the crash site. He said completing the search will take at least three weeks.

The investigators 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.

Ukraine and Western governments blame rebels for the shootdown of the Boeing 777. U.S. analysts say 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.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Anatolii from: Artem, Russia
August 05, 2014 4:03 AM
"But he said the military has opened humanitarian corridors for city residents to flee the planned offensive" It means who will not leave the city would be automatically described as pro-Russian separatists and must be killed.

by: LO777
August 05, 2014 4:02 AM
А Russian leader Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev presented Crimea to Ukraine in 1954. Crimea's people were against that decision.

Former high-level U.S. intelligence veterans released a statement urging President Obama to release any real evidence he has about the tragedy.

A few extracts from the article:

Twelve days after the shoot-down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, your administration still has issued no coordinated intelligence assessment summarizing what evidence exists to determine who was responsible – much less to convincingly support repeated claims that the plane was downed by a Russian-supplied missile in the hands of Ukrainian separatists.

As intelligence professionals we are embarrassed by the unprofessional use of partial intelligence information.

If the intelligence on the shoot-down is as weak as it appears judging from the fuzzy scraps that have been released, we strongly suggest you call off the propaganda war and await the findings of those charged with investigating the shoot-down.

Then, you may be persuaded to take steps to curb the risk that relations with Russia might escalate from “Cold War II” into an armed confrontation.

by: Rational Rick from: USA
August 05, 2014 3:40 AM
Has anyone noticed that Vladimir Putin walks like the charachters' John Wayne played in his Westerns, (apologies to "the Duke")? Except that he isn't play acting and is following the Hitler playbook on Poland the Rhineland and Sudetenland. Lets put the missile's back in Poland and help Ukraine with lethal arms.

by: Igor from: Russia
August 05, 2014 3:35 AM
Ukraine troops must withdraw or they will face destruction from pinpoint attacks.
In Response

by: sasha from: Ukraine
August 05, 2014 7:40 AM
Russia has been already shelling from its terretory

by: Anonymous
August 05, 2014 2:49 AM
The Russian people need to oust Putin, he is only doing harm to the Russian economy on the world stage. He is acting like a reckless idiot.

by: Hans from: Germany
August 05, 2014 1:18 AM
If war will break out in EU,Russia is to blame! Russians don't come to our country!!!!!!

by: Bright Quang from: USA
August 04, 2014 9:34 PM
Bright Quang said:
"Democracy of the powerful is not truthful."

by: tawrid from: New Zealand
August 04, 2014 9:26 PM
Its just a new era of changing the control of world powers. Unfortunately, time for US is counting. Hope Russia and China won't be heinous like US rather will be kind to the rest of the world.
In Response

by: farfuncle from: Botswana
August 05, 2014 4:59 AM
The subjugation of non Russians begins in Ukraine, Russian Imperial Colonizers of extreme NaZionalistic zeal will stop at nothing where their Imperial colonies are concerned -destabilizing and fomenting uprisings where possible. Be thankful that there are no colonies of Russian speakers in New Zealand.
In Response

by: Alan D from: New Zealand
August 05, 2014 1:53 AM
tawrid you have obviously never lived in Russia, or the US. TO call on China and Russia to kindly and benevolent is naive beyond words. The US, "heinous"? Relative to Russia and China? You have no idea of both the meaning of the word, and historic realities.

by: Metwo from: Canada
August 04, 2014 9:00 PM
NATO should start military trainings along the Russian borders and make sure the Crimea Russian fleet is blockaded.
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
August 05, 2014 12:01 AM
Hey Metwo from Canada.... Should the US blockade the Russians in Crimea, like the US blockade the Mexicans and other South Americans from pouring over the US border into the US by the thousands every week?.... PS;.. Don't tell Al-Qaeda?

by: Richard Mc from: North Carolina
August 04, 2014 8:59 PM
War games are not games. Russia is simulating the surface-to-air missile capabilities of the Ukraine. When the data is analyzed an attack may follow shortly. If so, it will have been the Obama administration's greatest foreign policy failure and, quite likely, greatest failure.
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