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Ukrainian army continues crackdown on rebel strongholds


Ukraine

Ukrainian army continues crackdown on rebel strongholds

The Ukrainian army is pushing ahead with its offensive in the east of Ukraine.

On Sunday, its air force attacked Luhansk killing at least two people. The previous day around 80 people were injured after planes bombarded the city.

Meanwhile in Slovyansk, rebels were forced to retreat and take refuge in nearby Donetsk.

Thousands of people gathered in the centre of Donetsk for a rally to show their support for the separatists who had arrived in the city.

The leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Andrei Purgin, said they had many willing volunteers but little supplies to keep them going.

“We have to understand that we could have many more insurgents but the problem is that we don’t have enough supplies or weapons.” he said, adding that they would be staying in Donetsk “Where could we retreat from Donetsk? To Mars. Only to Mars. There is nowhere else to go”.

Kyiv has said it now plans to lay siege to the cities of Lugansk and Donetsk to drive rebels out.

Kyiv’s new offensive against the pro-Russian rebels or “self-defence forces” comes after President Poroshenko refused to renew a ceasefire with the separatists.

Ukraine’s defence minister, Valery Heletey, vowed to “destroy separatists” and “restore Kyiv’s authority” as soon as possible.

On a visit to Slovyansk, he reassured residents that they would be allowed to speak their own language.

“These are all speculations about Russian and Ukrainian languages. My wife speaks Russian. My children speak Russian. At work I speak Ukrainian. No one has any questions regarding language issue, neither in Kyiv, nor in any other city. You can go to Lviv and speak Russian, “ Heletey said.

The uprisings in eastern Ukraine began in April as rebels took over government buildings and declared their independence from Kyiv.

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