News / Europe

    Dozens of Militants Killed in Battle for Donetsk Airport

    • A supporter of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic sits behind a newly erected barricade on the airport road in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, May 28, 2014.
    • Coalminers in the Donbass coalfields have gone on an open-ended strike to demand Ukrainian troops and other forces leave the Donetsk Region, May 28, 2014.
    • Interior Ministry security force members and investigators work inside a burned out regional office of the All-Ukrainian Union "Svoboda" (Freedom) Party, led by Oleh Tyahnybok, in Odessa, May 28, 2014.
    • Local people look at a burned out  car following a shelling from Ukrainian government forces, in Slovyansk, May 28, 2014.
    • The body of a pro-Russian gunman killed in clashes with Ukrainian government forces around the airport lies on a stretcher at a city morgue in Donetsk, May 27, 2014.
    • A wrecked Kamaz truck is seen near the Donetsk airport, Ukraine, May 27, 2014.
    • Firefighters work at an ice hockey arena in Donetsk, Ukraine, May 27, 2014.
    • People stand near belongings of separatists killed in a fight with pro-Ukrainian forces outside a morgue in Donetsk, Ukraine, May 27, 2014.
    • Pro-Russian militia men arrive to take positions outside an airport in Donetsk, Ukraine, May 26, 2014.
    • A woman reacts after seeing the lifeless body of a man killed by shrapnel following a shelling from Ukrainian government forces in Slovyansk, Ukraine, May 26, 2014.
    • A Ukrainian helicopter Mi-24 gunship fires its cannons against rebels at the main terminal building at the airport in Donetsk, Ukraine, May 26, 2014.
    • A military truck with armed pro-Russian militants drives through a police checkpoint toward the airport at Donetsk, Ukraine, May 26, 2014.
    Images from Ukraine
    VOA News
    After a day of punishing air strikes and fierce fighting with pro-Russian separatist gunmen, Ukraine said on Tuesday that it had regained control of the Donetsk airport.

    However, dozens of militants were killed in the unprecedented assault by Ukrainian government forces, which continued on Tuesday, according to media reports.

    Reuters journalists counted 20 bodies in combat fatigues in one room of a city morgue in Donetsk. Some of the bodies were missing limbs, sign that the government had brought to bear overwhelming firepower against the rebels for the first time.

    “From our side, there are more than 50 [dead],” the prime minister of the rebels' self-styled Donetsk People's Republic, Alexander Borodai, told Reuters at the hospital.
     
    Ukraine Government, Pro-Russian Militants Battle for Donetsk Airporti
    X
    May 27, 2014 1:13 PM
    A 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. VOA's Al Pessin reports.

    Donetsk mayor Oleksandr Lukyanchenko told reporters that two civilians and 38 combatants had died, while rebel leaders suggested that the toll among their ranks could be higher, the French news agency AFP reported.

    The government said it suffered no losses in the assault, which began with air strikes hours after Ukrainians overwhelmingly voted to elect a 48-year-old billionaire confectionary magnate Petro Poroshenko as their new president.

    At least 100 rebels were killed in Monday's battle for control of the airport in Donetsk, said a pro-Russian separatist who declined to be identified, according to Reuters. Rebel leaders told the AP that the death toll for their forces could rise to up to 100.

    “We failed because their numbers were greater than ours several fold. We seized the main airport building, but afterwards they started shelling, firing from jet fighters and helicopters,” the separatist, who was shot in the leg, told Reuters.

    Russia calls for halt to offensive

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has declared Moscow's right to intervene to protect Russian speakers in Ukraine, demanded an immediate halt to the offensive.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also called for a quick end to the military operation, adding that Russia supports efforts to negotiate a peaceful end to the crisis.

    Moscow, however, said it would not consider a visit by Poroshenko for any talks.

    Ukraine's First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Yarema said the "anti-terrorist operation" in eastern Ukraine would continue until "not a single terrorist remains on the territory of Ukraine."

    Emboldened by election

    Until now, Ukrainian forces have largely avoided direct assaults on the separatists, in part out of what they say is fear of precipitating an invasion by tens of thousands of Russian troops massed on the border.

    But the government in Kyiv appears to have interpreted Poroshenko's big election victory - he won more than 54 percent of the vote in a field of 21 candidates, against 13 percent for his closest challenger - as a mandate for decisive action.

    After rebels seized the Donetsk airport on Monday, Ukrainian warplanes and helicopters strafed them from the air and paratroopers were flown in as part of the assault.

    Shooting carried on through the night and on Tuesday the road to the airport bore signs of fighting. Heavy machinegun fire could be heard in the distance in mid-morning.

    “The airport is completely under control,” Interior Minister Arsen Avakov told journalists in the capital Kyiv. “The adversary suffered heavy losses. We have no losses,” he added.

    Borodai, the rebel prime minister, also said the airport was now under government control.
     
    Donetsk, UkraineDonetsk, Ukraine
    x
    Donetsk, Ukraine
    Donetsk, Ukraine

    The military strikes mark the first time the government has unleashed the full lethal force of its aircraft and ground troops directly at the Donetsk rebels, a group of local volunteers and shadowy outsiders led by a Muscovite that Kyiv and Western countries say is a Russian military intelligence agent.

    OSCE team

    The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said on Tuesday it had lost contact with a four-member observer team in the restive Ukrainian city of Donetsk, AFP reported.

    Their disappearance comes more than a month after another OSCE team of military observers was captured by pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine and held in the flashpoint city of Slovyansk for over a week.
     
    OSCE spokesman Michael Bociurkiw said Tuesday that the officials were traveling between cities in eastern Ukraine when they dropped out of contact.
     
    "They were headed eastbound, we know that, between Donetsk city and the border with Luhansk Oblast, and there was some texting going back and forth, and then at around 6 (p.m.) their phones went dead, and from there we didn't hear anything further from them,” Bociurkiw said.

    There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but rebel groups have previously kidnapped OSCE monitors in Ukraine.

    The OSCE said the four were international members of its Special Monitoring Mission - a Dane, an Estonian, a Turk and a Swiss national, the AFP reported.

    Over 1,000 observers from the OSCE and other international bodies had been in Ukraine to monitor Sunday's presidential election.

    US support

    U.S. President Barack Obama congratulated Ukraine's Poroshenko on his election victory on Tuesday and offered U.S. support as he seeks to unify the country, the White House said in a statement.
     
    Obama stressed the importance of quickly implementing the reforms necessary for Ukraine to bring the country together and to develop a sustainable economy, attractive investment climate, and transparent and accountable government that is responsive to the concerns and aspirations of all Ukrainians, the statement read.

    Obama congratulated Poroshenko and offered “the full support of the United States as he seeks to unify and move his country forward.”
     
    The two leaders agreed to continue their conversation during Obama's trip to Europe next week, the White House said.


    Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AP and AFP.
     
    Error rendering storify.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: meanbill from: USA
    May 27, 2014 11:50 AM
    THE WISE MAN said it; -- (A message to both sides). -- Don't let the Donetsk airport, be your French losing "battle of Diem Bien Phu" _ that cost the French the Indo China war. -- (ONE battle won't win a war, but you can lose the war, by losing ONE battle). --
    Ho Chi Minh told America; _ "We can fight a war for (40) years or more, or we can drink tea together" --- These are words of wisdom to the new Ukraine government, and to the (2) independent states? -- (NEGOTIATE?)..

    by: jonathan huang from: canada
    May 27, 2014 10:51 AM
    Kyev stop killing your own ppl! stop oppression!

    east ukraine wants more freedom, thats it. they have their right to choose their own path.
    In Response

    by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
    May 28, 2014 12:03 AM
    @anonymous, lol what you said is exactly how those thugs rioted to remove the previous legitimate president.
    If the pro west can use weapons to throw the president, so can the pro Russia do the same.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    May 27, 2014 3:05 PM
    Democratically they can discuss, but they chose to use weapons, that was their biggest mistake. If you want something ask for it, don't draw weapons and take over government locations, that is a crime against any nation. Let say the Kremlin was taken over by gunmen what would Putin do? He would kill them ALL and that's a fact.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    May 27, 2014 10:04 AM
    All OSCE members, are spotters and spies for the (western backed) ultra right-wing Kiev government still in control of the Ukraine military.. -Using the US, EU and NATO countries battle tactics against countries without air defenses -- (the Ukraine military fights the battles) -- but when they have to put their boots on the ground, they'll be defeated? --- "You can win wars on the back of a horse, but you can't rule the people from the back of a horse" .. Genghis Khan

    by: Anonymous
    May 27, 2014 9:13 AM
    Good job for Ukraine, continue to gun down all terrorist supported by Putin. Bullshit terrorists.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.