KIEV/DONETSK/LUGANSK, July 05, 20:52 /ITAR-TASS/. Militiamen have left Slavyansk besieged by the Ukrainian army, fighting their way to Kramatorsk and Artyomovsk.
The troops of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) have taken positions along reserve defence lines. Militiamen from other cities of the Donetsk Region are moving toward the regional capital. The Ukrainian army is sustaining heavy losses in Lugansk: about 130 of them have died there over the past 24 hours. Militia’s headquarters moves from Slavyansk to Kramatorsk
Militiamen left Slavyansk last night, moving their headquarters to Kramatorsk. Slavyansk is almost completely deserted. It was bombed again during the night, forcing people to flee en masse. Two ambulances that were transporting injured people also came under attack even though the Ukrainian authorities had promised to open a humanitarian corridor for those wishing to leave the city.
The local military hospital has been moved to Donetsk. Its chief physician in Donetsk said there was a shortage of personnel and all those available were busy placing the wounded, whose number has doubled.
The towns of Semyonovka and Niklolayevka, which for a long time remained the only link to Donetsk, have been taken by the Ukrainian army.
DNR Prime Minister Alexander Borodai told ITAR-TASS that the self-proclaimed republic’s troops had to surrender their previous positions to the outnumbering Ukrainian army and move to the reserve ones. “Our troops have taken up positions on the reserve defence lines, doing so in an organised manner and preserving the personnel and hardware. We were prepared for this as we had to fight a group of several dozen thousand people and hundreds of armoured hardware; in other words, practically the entire defence capability of the Ukrainian army,” Borodai said.
“Our troops are continuing to fight, their morale is high and we are confident of our strength. But considering the scorched earth tactics used by the punitive squadrons and the overall Ukrainian strategy of genocide against the people in Donbas, we say that every hour of fighting claims the lives of peaceful people,” he said. “We are urging the international community to influence the Ukrainian authorities and stop the extermination of the peaceful population,” Borodai said.
The chief of the Ukrainian Army General Staff, Viktor Muzhenko, briefed President Pyotr Poroshenko on the situation in Slavyansk. “Militants made an attempt to break out of Slavyansk last night but came under mortar fire from the Ukrainian army,” the presidential press service quoted Muzhenko as saying. “As a result, one tank, two armoured personnel carriers and two airborne combat vehicles of the militants were destroyed. Reconnaissance units of the armed forces and the National Guard of Ukraine are now working in Slavyansk.”
Muzhenko and Defence Minister Valery Geletei then told the president that a Ukrainian flag had been raised on the Slavyansk City Council building.
“The commanders of the armed forces also briefed the supreme commander-in-chief on the progress of the anti-terrorism operation. A reconnaissance company is now in Kramatorsk to study the possibility of planting mines in the city for further combat operation,” the press service said.
Personnel were evacuated from the building of the Donetsk city administration in connection with an air raid by the Ukrainian army. DNR chief administrative officer Boris Litvinov said air raids had become commonplace. “It has become customary that several planes would scoop down on the city and its administration building. The military asked us to leave the building for an hour or two in order to avoid possible casualties” he said.
At the same time, Litvinov said “the cabinet of ministers is working as usual, each doing his job. No meetings were scheduled for today”.
About 130 members of the Ukrainian security forces died in fighting in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk over the past 24 hours, the press service of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LNR) said.
It said an Ilyushin-76 plane, seven armoured personnel carriers, two howitzers, two mortars, an air defence system and five vehicles of the Ukrainian army were also destroyed.
“The Ukrainian army tried to attack the city from three directions… all attacks were successfully repelled by the LNR army. The enemy lost two howitzers, a mortar crew and about 30 personnel,” the press service said.
“The LNR fighters carried out a successful operation in the area of the Lugansk airport held by the enemy’s aeromobile troops. The enemy was shelled from heavy mortars and lost an Il-76 plane, seven armoured personnel carriers, a mortar crew, one air defence system, five vehicles and about 100 troops,” the press service said.
At the same time, the Ukrainian army killed one person and wounded 13, including one child, in Lugansk.
Attacks on journalists are continuing in Kiev. Saturday’s attack on the editorial offices of the Kiev-based newspaper Vesti was the latest of them.
One of its employees, Grigory Grin, said the attack had happened at about 11:00 local time (12:00 Moscow time). “At first I heard several gunshots, fired most likely from automatic weapons. Then rocks and Molotov cocktails came crashing through the windowpanes of the first and second floors. After that tear gas was poured into the building, spreading quickly around, and it’s still hard to breath there. One of the security personnel who tried to stop the bandits was beaten up,” Grin said.
Vesti owner Igor Guzhva said police had arrived at the scene of the attack and expressed hope that “the perpetrators and the masterminds will be identified”.
On Friday, July 4, the issue of journalists’ security was raised at a meeting between media representatives and Kiev Mayor Vitaly Klitschko, following the July 2 incident in the centre of the city not far from Independence Square. When a TV crew was filming a report on the barricades several unidentified persons tried to stop them, demanding that they erase the tape. When the reporters refused to do so, the unidentified person used force against them. After that local media wrote an open letter to Klitschko, asking him to ensure the security of journalists in the city.