Intense fighting took place today as Ukrainian government forces tried to retake most of the airport in Donetsk. The airport is a strategic site in the battle for Eastern Ukraine.
Government troops started the conflict by conducting massive shelling of the airport at 9:00am. This was the first time since this past summer that the airport had experienced such heavy shelling.
In defense of the attacks, Yuriy Biryukov, who is a military adviser to the President of Ukraine, stated that Ukraine has kept their side of the agreements, but since the rebels will not, we have to put them in their place. Later, it was announced that the Ukrainian forces have succeeded in retaking almost the entire airport. They called it a “massive operation,” but readily admit that the facility is “wrecked.”
During the operation there were four military troops killed and 32 have been wounded within the past 24 hours, the military spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, reported. No reports of casualties have been given for the rebels.
The spokesman also indicated that the Ukrainian army does not intend to go into the city of Donetsk. Their goal was merely to reestablish the line of separation that was agreed upon between the opposing sides.
The Ukrainian government is insisting that the attack by their forces enabling them to retake most of the airport at Donetsk does not break the agreed upon lines set forth in the Minsk agreement. The agreement had a 12-point peace plan and it included the airport as belonging to the Ukrainians. They say that they are simply retaking property that is clearly their own, according to the agreement.
Many different weapons were used in the attack at the airport. Reports said that several sizes of missiles were used along with aircraft strikes, and shelling. Several buildings were hit that were not at the airport, including some civilian buildings and a bus station, four schools and a kindergarten. Right now, there are more than 40 villages and towns near the airport that do not have any power.
The talks that have been taking place between the two sides have stalled. In the interim, pro-Russian rebels have increased their attacks this past week, causing several casualties, including 13 civilians that died when their passenger bus was attacked.
The airport is viewed as a symbol of the conflict. The damage to the airport is tremendous and stopped being used a long time ago, but because of its symbolism, the fighting for its territory continues.
The rebel leader, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, accuses Ukraine of trying to restart the war. The peace talks that were scheduled last week in Minsk were cancelled. As a result, there were as many as 82 distinct rebel attacks, the military observed.
In response to the action, Russian troops are reported to be massing along the border. The country is also said to be testing new weapons in the area of fighting in eastern Ukraine.
Kiev states that they want some conditions to be met before talks will continue. They want the Ukraine-Russian border to be closed, Russian heavy weapons to be removed, and all hostages to be released.
After Ukrainian forces retook most of the airport in Donetsk, meetings have been called which are hoped will help bring resolution to the country’s trouble. The Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, and Poroshenko has asked for an urgent meeting between Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSEC). After this meeting, Poroshenko has asked to speak with the foreign ministers of France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine.
By Mike Valles