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A pro-Russian fighter takes position at a checkpoint just outside Slavyansk, eastern Ukraine, on June 9, 2014. (ANDREI PETROV/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
A pro-Russian fighter takes position at a checkpoint just outside Slavyansk, eastern Ukraine, on June 9, 2014. (ANDREI PETROV/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Rebel assault repelled, Kiev says as Poroshenko orders ‘safety corridor’ Add to ...

Pro-Russian separatists attacked Ukrainian military checkpoints and other strategic points in eastern Ukraine overnight but they were beaten off with only minor casualties on the Ukrainian side, a government forces spokesman said on Tuesday.

In a three-hour battle near the airport of Kramatorsk, rebels attacked the army with mortars but government forces returned fire, destroying their position and killing 40 “mercenaries,” said the spokesman, Vladyslav Seleznyov.

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This figure could not be independently confirmed and there was no immediate word from the side of the separatists.

In Slavyansk, just north of Kramatorsk, two Ukrainian soldiers were wounded when rebels, who control the city, attacked an army position on the perimeter using grenade-launchers. In Luhansk, on the border with Russia, separatist fighters opened fire on the airport and nearby Ukrainian army positions.

KIEV: PRESIDENT CALLS FOR ‘SAFETY CORRIDOR’

Ukraine’s newly elected pro-Western president, Petro Poroshenko, has ordered security chiefs to establish a “safety corridor” to help civilians caught up in the fighting to leave the area if they wished, his press service said on Tuesday.

Poroshenko also told the government to organize medical assistance to civilians in areas at risk and to send in mobile units to deliver drinking water, food and medical supplies.

Ukraine said on Monday it had reached a “mutual understanding” with Russia on parts of a peace plan proposed by Poroshenko, though it gave no details and Moscow made no direct comment on the issue.

Poroshenko, who took office on Saturday, has pledged to end the fighting while promising to address the legitimate grievances of people in the east, by for example granting them greater autonomy and guaranteeing the status of the Russian language.

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