KIEV: The Ukrainian forces have launched a large-scale operation against pro-Russian protesters in the eastern city of Slavyansk in order to retake the city from them, media reported on Friday.
During the operation, several protesters were injured.
“The attack is targeting a few checkpoints at the same time. A few armored vehicles and airborne combat vehicles arrived and airborne troops descended from the helicopters and attacked the checkpoints,” media quoted the press secretary of the Slavyansk self-defense units as saying.
Meanwhile, two helicopters were shot down by pro-Russian gunmen, leaving one pilot dead and another one arrested, the Mayor of Slavyansk Vyacheslav Ponomarev said.
A commander at one of the checkpoints said the Ukrainian army has taken control of one of the roadblocks on the outskirts of Slavyansk as well as the city’s TV broadcasting center while a city administration spokesperson said the Ukrainian army is putting up artillery around the captured TV station.
On Thursday, in a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the southeast of Ukraine and start of a national dialogue as a way forward to resolve the crisis.