Ukraine denies military operation amid reported clashes
Monday, May 05, 2014
SLAVYANSK – Ukrainian military forces reportedly battled pro-Russian separatists in the outskirts of the eastern city of Slavyansk on Monday despite denials by the government.
District Chairman of the Communist Party of Ukraine, Anatoliy Hemelevoy, said government forces moved in troops and vehicles before attacking separatists.
Clashes reportedly took place in the town of Semenevka in Slavyansk. Separatist spokeswoman Stella Horosheva said a large number of pro-Russian sympathisers died in the clashes without specifying how many.
Horosheva also claimed civilians were among the dead and that Ukrainian government forces had blocked ambulances from arriving to the scene.
However, Ukraine’s Security Service spokeswoman, Marina Ostapenko, denied that there was any military operation in Slavyansk.
“There are no anti-terrorism operations being conducted in Slavyansk at the moment,” Ostapenko said. “The conflicts in the region could be between criminal gangs.”
Ukraine’s interim President Oleksandr Turchynov has said the situation in the eastern and southern part of the country has deteriorated because of “armed illegal gangs”.
Operations have begun in the districts of Artema and Kombikornsk, eyewitnesses said.
On Friday, two Ukrainian helicopters were shot down, killing a pilot and serviceman during military operations against armed pro-Russian separatists in the east of Slavyansk.
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