Ukraine’s army has moved in what its commander-in-chief is calling a massive offensive to clear out armed pro-Russian separatists from their strongholds in the east.
Artillery and aerial bombardments were used to soften up ground forces, and the defence ministry says “terrorist plans to significantly escalate armed confrontation have been disrupted”.
After 10 days of Ukraine refraining from attacks it lost 27 soldiers in more than 100 ceasefire violations says Kyiv. President Poroshenko was coming under pressure to take stronger action. Now he has.
“I don’t know who is fighting whom. We are standing here, we are afraid and shaking. There are about 150 people in the hall of the hospital, different people, old people. There, you can hear that they are shooting again,” said one man in Donetsk.
Poroshenko is furious Russia has not done more to seal the border and cut supplies to the rebels, who he described as “dirt and parasites”.
“We will attack and free our land. The non-extension of the ceasefire plan is our response to terrorists, rebels and marauders, to all those who torture civilians, who paralyse the country’s economy, who wreck payment of salaries, pensions and studentships, who explode railway station and destroy water pipes, who deprive people of a normal, peaceful life,” promised Poroshenko.
In Slovyansk, the epicentre of the rising against Kyiv, heavily-armed gunmen remain dug in and defiant, vowing never to take orders from Kyiv again. The rest of the now badly-damaged city cowers, and waits for the fighting to stop.