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

Arab League Delays Forming Joint Force

Delay grows out of one of original obstacles facing pan-Arab force, analysts say: 'They may agree on the principle, but they continue to argue about how to implement the project' More

Pakistan Demands Afghanistan Protect Its Kabul Mission, Staff

Officials in Islamabad say Afghan agents are harassing Pakistani embassy personnel, particularly those living outside of mission’s compound More

US Survey: Trump Lead Grows in Republican Presidential Contest

Quinnipiac University poll shows brash billionaire real estate mogul with 28 percent support among Republican voters 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs