Ukrainian forces struck at pro-Russian separatist bases in eastern regions with air and artillery strikes on Tuesday after President Petro Poroshenko announced he would not renew a ceasefire but go on the offensive to rid Ukraine of “parasites”.
Within hours of Poroshenko’s early morning announcement, the military went into action against rebel bases and checkpoints in the east which has been in separatist ferment since April.
Saying Ukrainian forces had launched attacks “from the air and land”, the defense ministry said: “The terrorists’ plan to significantly escalate armed confrontation has been disrupted and the threat of losses to the civilian population and service personnel has been liquidated.”
A fierce gunfight has broken out in the regional capital of Donetsk as rebels attempt to take control of the local Ukrainian Interior Ministry headquarters, according to witnesses cited by Ukrainska Pravda and local news agency 62.ua. Ukrainska Pravda reports that the shooting began at 1p.m. on Postisheva street in the centre of the city.
The street has been closed off and ambulances have been arriving at the scene, witnesses report. Workers from the nearby “Green Plaza” office building have been evacuated and most shops inside the “Zolote Kiltse” mall have closed.
In the meantime, transport links have been cut between several towns across Donetsk region due to resumption of the ATO. Among them are Kramatorsk, Sloviansk, Krasniy Liman and Svyatogorsk, Ukrainska Pravda reports.
Traffic on surrounding roads has been stopped by gunmen wearing camouflage and wielding anti-tank weapons, apparently members of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, although they are not revealing their affiliation. The scene is confusing, with residents visibly shaken and scared. Many are running to their homes, according to Kyiv Post reporter Christopher Miller who is at the scene.
Early in the morning on July 1, a bus came under fire in the city of Kramatorsk, killing four and wounding five others, reports Donetsk news agency Ostrov, citing the Donetsk Regional State Administration press service. The wounded were transported to hospitals and are currently being treated by medical professionals, the administration’s press service said.
A TV tower fell in the city of Sloviansk: according to TV channel TSN, the construction, a height of which is 222 meters, was destroyed during terrorists’ firing. Nobody got injuries, but the falling moment resembled some kind of earthquake.
www.belsat.eu/en, via Reuters, KyivPost, Unian