Ukraine launches offensive against rebels in eastern city of Slovyansk

Ukrainian troops on Tuesday launched an offensive against pro-Russian insurgents in the eastern city of Slovyansk and advanced through the city’s outskirts, the nation’s interior minister said.

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine — Ukrainian troops on Tuesday launched an offensive against pro-Russian insurgents in the eastern city of Slovyansk and advanced through the city’s outskirts, the nation’s interior minister said.

Arsen Avakov said that government troops broke through rebel positions around the village of Semenovka on the eastern fringe of Slovyansk. “An active offensive stage of the counterterrorist operation is underway in Slovyansk,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

Local residents said that several Ukrainian combat jets and helicopter gunships attacked rebel positions on the eastern outskirts of Slovyansk, and heavy artillery barrages have continued throughout the day.

An AP journalist heard sustained gun and artillery fire and saw plumes of black smoke rising over the city. Ukrainian combat jets could be seen flying over the city.

Avakov warned residents in Slovyansk and the nearby cities of Kramatorsk and Krasny Liman to stay at home.

A Ukrainian military officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media, said one serviceman was killed and 13 others were wounded when their vehicle came under rebel fire near Slovyansk.

The Interfax news agency quoted Vyacheslav Ponomarev, the leader of insurgents in Slovyansk, as saying that his men downed a Ukrainian jet and a helicopter gunship. The information, which was denied by the Ukrainian military, couldn’t be independently confirmed.

Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly announced an escalation in armed operations, only to eventually back down. Government forces have in recent days been noticeably reinforced to the north of Slovyansk, however, and deployment of air power over the past week has signalled increased determination.

Slovyansk, which sits on a strategic highway, has seen daily fighting between government forces and the rebels, who have seized government buildings and set up checkpoints around the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk that form Ukraine’s industrial heartland.

The fighting has escalated following the May 25 presidential election won by billionaire candy magnate Petro Poroshenko, with rebels launching an attack on Donetsk airport and shooting down a government helicopter over Slovyansk.

On Monday, hundreds of rebels armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades mounted a daylong siege of a border guards base on the outskirts of Luhansk that co-ordinates the protection of Ukraine’s border with Russia. Border guards said they killed at least five rebels in repelling the attack.

Rebels in Luhansk said that eight people were killed and another 28 were wounded Monday when a Ukrainian jet fired rockets at the regional administration building that the insurgents had turned into their headquarters.

The Ukrainian military denied launching the attack and said that the building was hit by a rebel rocket that misfired, but an observer mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said Tuesday that the building was hit by an air raid.

Ukraine’s acting chief prosecutor, Oleh Makhnitskiy, said Tuesday that 181 people, including 59 Ukrainian servicemen, have been killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine and another 293 have been wounded. With the insurgents controlling several cities in the east, the death toll released by Makhnitskyi is likely to be incomplete.

Just Posted

Cryptocurrency here to stay says one Red Deerian

Bitcoin is more than just a commodity with an ever changing value,… Continue reading

Lacombe County residential development and golf course proposed

Lincoln Ranch would include 100 homes and nine-hole golf course

Eight flu deaths in Central Alberta

99 admitted to hospital so far

UPDATED: Shots fired in Riverside Meadows

Red Deer RCMP search for more suspects

Exploring eating disorders in sports and fitness

Eating Disorders Awareness Week runs Feb. 1 to 7

NorAm Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships begin in Red Deer

The biggest cross-country skiing competition in Red Deer’s history is underway. Nearly… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month