News / Europe

Ukraine Warns Civilians as Troops Close In on Rebels in East

A Ukrainian military convoy moves along a road near Donetsk, Aug. 9, 2014.
A Ukrainian military convoy moves along a road near Donetsk, Aug. 9, 2014.
Gabe Joselow

The Ukrainian military says troops are continuing to close in on remaining separatist regions in the east, and are warning civilians to evacuate the areas to avoid being caught in the crossfire. Meanwhile, Russia and Ukraine continue to be at odds over a possible humanitarian mission to bring supplies to besieged residents.

Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told reporters in Kyiv Monday “anti-terror” forces are attacking separatist strongholds from four directions, closing in on the main rebel-held city of Donetsk.

Lysenko warned civilians to leave the areas around Donetsk and neighboring Luhansk province - near the border with Russia - to avoid the coming assault.

"We are once again addressing civilians,” he said. “If you can, leave these areas temporarily because there will be liberating operations and attacks on terrorists.”

He added that the armed forces will do what they can to provide transportation for citizens wishing to flee. The United Nations says more than 100,000 people have been internally displaced from the two eastern regions in Ukraine since the conflict began in May.

Military spokesman Lysenko said 568 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and more than 2,000 injured in fighting with Russian-backed separatists.

Lysenko said the military plans to maintain pressure on rebels who still control substantial swaths of territory in the east.

"If we pause,” Lysenko said, “the terrorists will have time to regroup, to get more supplies, more civilians and military will be killed; that's why we are moving forward, we are not stopping."

In another development, a prison in Donetsk was reportedly shelled late Sunday, killing one inmate and allowing others to escape.

It is not clear who fired the shots, though Ukraine's military denies responsibility.

Russia, meantime, has asked for a humanitarian mission in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross to provide relief to distressed citizens in the eastern regions.

Ukrainian, U.S. and European officials have said any unauthorized Russian intervention would be a violation of international law.

A statement from the office of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he discussed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the weekend the possibility of a Ukrainian-led humanitarian mission in Luhansk in coordination with the ICRC.

However, an official with the Ukrainian Red Cross National Committee told VOA Monday they had received no requests from the Ukrainian government.

Latest images from Ukraine:

  • A prisoner inspects damage in a high-security facility after shelling in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Aug. 11, 2014.
  • A prisoner tramples smoldering grass in a high-security facility after shelling in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Aug. 11, 2014.
  • Ukrainian fire fighters put out the fire at the destroyed buses after shelling in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Aug. 10, 2014.
  • A man runs out of the destroyed building after shelling in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Aug. 10, 2014.
  • A wounded Ukrainian woman receiving treatment after shelling in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Aug. 10, 2014.
  • People get onto the ground during incoming shelling in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Aug. 10, 2014.
  • Ukrainian fire fighters put out the fire at the destroyed building after shelling in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Aug. 10, 2014.
  • Ukrainian fire fighters put out the fire at the destroyed buses after shelling in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Aug. 10, 2014.
  • Passengers wait before boarding a train heading to Moscow at a railway station in Donetsk, eastern Ukrainian, Aug. 10, 2014.

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by: Andrew Polar from: Atlanta, USA
August 12, 2014 1:17 AM
United States - the country that one day declared independence from Britain and fought for independence, now is against that someone else somewhere else also declared independence. But may be it is the matter of preference. Anyway, I know which sanctions must be imposed on Russia for helping separatists. Let us look at the history. In early 1990th there was disputed territory between Armenia and Azerbaijan called Nagorno-Karabakh. 70% was Armenians, but the region was formally under control of Azerbaijan. Karabakh declared independence, Armenia supported it militarily and now it is independent territory under supervision of Armenia. Since situation in Donetsk totally identical let us punish Russia in the same way Armenia was punished. How about that? As far as I know there were no sanctions for Armenia. How Nagorno-Karabakh is different. Why Japan, Canada and Australia did not impose sanctions on Armenia?
In Response

by: Igor from: Russia
August 12, 2014 12:36 PM
Because the USA and some countries barking for it are only interested in affairs which are beneficial to them. They only care for the goose that will lay golden eggs for them. They are professional hypocrites. Independence, Democracy, human rights...are only placed after their interests. The plight of Russian speakers in Ukraine means nothing to them because they see no benefit from those people, so let Kiev kill off those people.

by: Igor from: Russia
August 11, 2014 11:26 PM
The cruel points of the West and Kiev are clear: No humanitarian activities until they achieve their goals no matter how many Russian speaking civilians will be killed. And the only way for them to escape the killings is to leave their lands, houses for Russia. It is a kind of ethnic cleansing. So it is not the time for Russia to negotiate or persuade but to take decisive actions to protect our Russian speaking fellows: Destroy all Kiev's forces without mercy if they continue to kill our innocent fellows!

by: Tony from: USA
August 11, 2014 2:53 PM
It is no innocent civilians.They are all betrayed GREAT UKRAINE. They are refuse to speak Ukraine language. Today in new Ukraine build on Adolf Hitler values no place for this subhumans. The world don't care about their cry for help. Not any civilize country did move a finger to save this busters. So what , if glories Ukraine Army is killing woman and children. We will clean this area for real Nationalistic Ukrainian Family's.
Glory to UKRAINE !!!

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 11, 2014 1:06 PM
I think it is stupid of Putin to chicken out because the West cajoles him for supporting his people in Donetsk. Putin's behavior here is dismally subservient and makes him not deserving of the post he holds as president of a strategically important country like Russia. If Russia should allow its people in East Ukraine to be sacrificed on the altar of diplomacy, it becomes both diplomatic and domestic suicide for both Russia and Putin expected to be the hope of the palpably oppressed peoples of the eastern bloc supposedly to be anchored by Russia and/or China. While China is still looking for a foothold in international politics and so cannot raise anyone's hope to be their savior, I think Russia cannot afford that suicide now, not when its allies are wondering what is happening and whether Russia is still able to weather the storm of Western anti-climax of nauseating sanctions regime and give them the much needed protection from western dominance. In a nutshell, this is not a time Russia can afford a failure, not so soon to give in and leave its allies out in the cold.

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