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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs