Lauren McCauley / Common Dreams & – 2014-06-07 00:39:24
Families Fleeing Eastern Ukraine to Escape Kiev’s Military Siege
Lauren McCauley / Common Dreams
(June 4, 2014) — Hundreds of Ukrainians have been killed this week since government troops launched their “anti-terrorist operation” on the rebel strongholds in the east.
As the fighting continued to rage in the cities of Luhansk and Slaviansk, US President Barack Obama met with Ukrainian President-elect Petro Poroshenko in Warsaw, Poland on Wednesday. During the meeting, Obama pledged his support for the newly elected Kiev government by promising $5 million worth of supplies for the Ukrainian military — in the form of night vision goggles and body armor — to aid their continued offensive against the rebels.
In remarks following the meeting, Obama announced an additional $1 billion in additional loan guarantees to supplement the IMF’s assistance and said that he and Poroshenko discussed other means that the US might aid in their “reform and transition process.”
“We’ve discussed additional steps that we can take to help train and professionalize the Ukrainian law enforcement and military so they can deal with some of the challenges that are still taking place in certain portions of the country,” Obama said a day after he pledged to boost US military deployments and exercises throughout eastern Europe.
For the second straight day in and around the eastern town of Slaviansk, government forces have battled the separatist army with “aircraft, helicopters and artillery,” Reuters reports.
The news agency, quoting a government spokesman, said more than 300 rebel forces had been killed in the past 24 hours, although the rebels have contested these numbers saying the troops’ losses were “more than ours.”
Speaking with those who were fleeing the country to escape the violence, Reuters continues:
“It’s a mess,” Marina, a young woman, sobbed as she clutched her husband’s arm. “It’s war.”
Balancing his four-year-old daughter on his hip, Andrei Bander, 37, said he feared he would not be back any day soon. “We took only what was most necessary. We are going. We don’t even know where. We will head to Russia though because it’s clear we need to leave Ukraine. I don’t see anything good left here,” he said, waiting for a taxi in the no man’s land beyond the checkpoint with only a few small bags.
Along the eastern border, armed rebels have seized three military facilities after prolonged battles with Ukrainian troops. The Associated Press reported the insurgents as saying that they wanted to crate a “humanitarian corridor” for those fleeing to Russia to escape the fighting.
During his speech, Obama continued to invoke the Russian threat, slamming them for allegedly “financing or supporting or arming separatists on Ukraine’s sovereign territory.” Calling their involvement a clear “violation of international law,” Obama added that the international community is “willing to back up those principles with consequences for Russia.”
On Wednesday evening, leaders of the G7 countries will convene in Brussels. The meeting, originally slated to include President Vladimir Putin and take place in Sochi, Russia, marks the first time in 17 years that body will come together without a representative from Russia.
Dozens Feared Killed in Ukrainian Military Assault on Hospital
(June 5, 2014) — Ukrainian armed forces have allegedly killed more than 25 wounded people in a hospital in Krasny Liman, on the outskirts of Slavyansk, as the National Guard seized the town from the local militia following heavy shelling.
“According to preliminary information, more than 25 people have been killed,”Denis Pushilin, Chairman of the Supreme Council of the People’s Republic of Donetsk was quoted by Itar-Tass.
While there are no official figures yet, Pushilin fears the body count in Tuesday’s assault on the hospital will eventually rise. “We fear that there may be more victims,” Pushilin said, adding that the figures announced by Kiev and reported by locals “differ greatly.”
The number of injured is still unknown as well. During an assault on the town people inside the hospital tried to flee in panic and hide in the basement. Medical staff scrambled to get the wounded, mostly elderly out, as mortar shelling on the medical facility continued.
According to Pushilin, Ukrainian forces were looking to kill the wounded self-defense members. “It is worse than a genocide â€“ shooting at the sick and wounded. The immoral actions by Kiev’s junta defy any explanation.”
The town of Krasny Liman with some 30,000 residents, located 18km southeast of Slavyansk in the Donetsk region was heavily shelled by the Ukrainian army during Kiev’s military operation Tuesday.
The center of town with densely populated residential areas, and the train station also became scenes of the mortar assault. Massive damage to the railway track in Ukrainian air strikes resulted in cancellation of services, the press service of the Donetsk railway authority said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, self-defense forces claim that Ukrainian units have trapped a brigade of railway workers. “Railway workers who remained alive are being kept in captivity. Snipers do not permit them to go out,” a source told Itar-tass, not elaborating on where the people were locked up.
Witnesses told RIA Novosti that the Ukrainian army scattered leaflets over the city from a helicopter, calling on the self-defense forces to surrender.
“All who lay down their arms and surrender voluntarily are guaranteed life and fair justice,” the leaflet reportedly read, adding that that those who don’t would be killed.
The army has been detaining people, local resident Irina, who was fleeing to Kharkov, told RT on the phone.
Another local resident RT managed to speak with, Nataliya, said that people are terrified. She claims that the Ukrainian security services tapped the phone lines, intimidating people who are petrified to discuss anything with their friends and relatives for the fear of retribution. Most of all people are afraid of point blank murder by the Ukrainian forces of civilians, she said, adding that the city has been completely surrounded by government troops and no one is allowed to leave the besieged town.
There are also numerous reports that the Ukrainian National Guard continues to raid apartments in Krasny Liman looking for self-defense forces.
On Tuesday, the National Guard intensified what Kiev calls an â€˜anti-terrorits’ operation with a massive artillery attack on Slavyansk, a city with a population of over 110,000 people, and its suburbs at 6am local time.
The fighting was “the longest fight that has happened during the entire standoff in Ukraine,” said the press secretary of the People’s Mayor of Slavyansk, Stella Khorosheva.
A spokesman for Kiev’s “anti-terrorist operation”, Vladyslav Seleznyov claimed that more than 300 self-defense troops were killed and about 500 wounded in and near the city of Slavyansk, where Kiev forces used aircraft, helicopters and artillery to capture the region. Seleznyov said only 2 Ukrainian troops were killed and 45 wounded.
“Krasny LIman was surrounded by government forces on Tuesday. The bandits were given an ultimatum: surrender or be destroyed,” Seleznyov added on Tuesday.
A source in the Kiev government told RIA Novosti that president-elect Pyotr Poroshenko had discussed the security operation with US Ambassador in Kiev Jeffrey Payette who called for a “decisive action” by Kiev against eastern regions of Ukraine.
After this meeting, the source claimed, Poroshenko demanded security forces hold a “sweep” in Donetsk and Lugansk regions before his inauguration, scheduled for June 7.
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