News / Europe

Ukraine Government Battles Rebels at Donetsk Airport

Ukraine - Donetsk Airporti
X
Patrick Wells
May 26, 2014 10:57 PM
Battle erupted at the main airport in the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine Monday, after a rebel attack was met with government airstrikes and assault by paratroops. Patrick Wells was at the scene.
Patrick Wells
— Scores of pro-Russian separatist fighters stormed the Donetsk airport in eastern Ukraine Monday morning, prompting government forces to respond with airstrikes, helicopter attacks and an assault by paratroopers.
 
The renewed violence came in the wake of Sunday’s election, in which billionaire businessman Petro Poroshenko emerged as the likely winner. As the battle in Donetsk was heating up, Poroshenko was at a news conference in Kyiv, calling for “quicker and more effective” government military offensives.  
 
Poroshenko had said his first trip as president would be to the restive east. The rebels’ attempt to seize Sergei Prokofiev International Airport may have been intended to prevent Poroshenko from travelling to Donetsk, a city that rebels have named as the seat of an independent “people’s republic.”
 
By early afternoon, black smoke had drifted over the airport. Jets circled overhead, dropping flares to stop rebel fighters targeting them with their portable anti-aircraft missiles.
 
Dangerously close to action
 
Our VOA news team got as close to the fighting as the airport’s perimeter, where a food kiosk inexplicably still was open. When the kiosk came under fire, with bullets clanging off the roof, we left.
 
On the road from the airport, we had expected to reconnect with other journalists but discovered, in their place, a large group of rebel fighters who had taken up defensive positions by the road. Many of the fighters had dark hair and complexions and Muslim clothing.
 
This reporter recognized one of the armed men from an incident several days earlier, when that man and another had forcibly shut down a polling station in Donetsk before Sunday’s election.
 
Rebel re-enforcements arrived near the airport and the men took up positions in the trees. Groups of civilians also began to flee the area, some seeming unable to comprehend what was happening.
 
Suddenly, a Ukrainian helicopter took off and roared over the heads of the rebel fighters, who responded with a storm of small-arms fire. More helicopters circled, attracting wild shooting from the separatists. Bullets whistled overhead.  
 
When it became clear the Ukrainian helicopters were marking rebel positions for airstrikes, the VOA news team left the area.
 
Reinforcements for rebels

Farther back, police had blockaded the road, allowing only trucks full of armed separatists through to reinforce their comrades.
 
Ukrainian military spokesman Vladislav Selezynov said an Su-25 fighter jet fired warning shots before a MiG-29 fighter jet carried out an air strike.  Later Monday, witnesses reported that Ukrainian Mi-24 attack helicopters also fired on the rebels.
 
There was no immediate confirmed report on damage or casualties.
 
Reuters reported that, at a news conference Monday in Donetsk, separatist leader Denis Pushilin called the fighting “a full-blown military standoff. I have no information on casualties. Our groups have destroyed one helicopter of the enemy."
 
Fighting continued late into the evening, spreading to nearby residential neighborhoods.
 
Despite weeks of violence in eastern Ukraine, many Donetsk residents have been able to carry out their daily routines. Now, some say, apprehension is growing.
 
Reuters contributed to this report.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: West from: Ukraine
May 27, 2014 9:44 AM
Thanks, Patrick Wells! All correctly written... In Ukraine, the Civil War - no, conducted anti-terrorist operation in the Eastern region! Confirmation: May 26, 2014, they arrived to Donetsk from Russia (Chechnya and Rostov Region)


by: Roman from: Belarus
May 27, 2014 4:10 AM
"Many of the fighters had dark hair and complexions and Muslim clothing"-- are you kidding me?? It's civil war in the Ukraine, not fight of legimate goverment vs prorussian terrorists!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid