Ukrainian city of Sloviansk surrounded by Ukrainian forces, all entrances blocked
By End the Lie
Ukrainian government forces reportedly surrounded the southeastern city of Sloviansk on Friday and cut off all entrances and exits, part of Kiev’s renewed operation to oust pro-Russian militants.
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This comes after an operation launched by Kiev in Sloviansk reportedly resulted in the killing of five militants on Thursday.
While the city is currently surrounded, Gen. Vasily Krutov, the commander of the operation in Sloviansk, said they would not storm the city due to the risk of civilian casualties, according to EFE.
Instead, Krutov called the local population of the 120,000-person city to stop backing pro-Russian militants and support the government’s operation.
The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said on Friday that a group of unidentified individuals, who were identified as terrorists by the Kyiv Post, seized a bus carrying observers with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
The bus was seized at the entrance to Sloviansk Friday and was convoyed into the city, the Interior Ministry said, according to Kyiv Post.
“Unidentified people stopped a bus carrying 13 passengers at the entrance to Sloviansk from the side of Kramatorsk at 11:40 a.m. on April 25, 2014,” the ministry said in a statement. “Among them were seven OSCE members, five members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and the driver.”
Viacheslav Ponomariov, the separatist “people’s mayor” of Sloviansk, confirmed the detention, according to Kyiv Post. Ponomariov said that there was also banned ammunition on board the bus.
Acting Head of the Ukrainian Presidential Administration Serhiy Pashynsky reportedly said that the government has decided to completely blockade Sloviansk.
“Within the frames of the antiterrorist operation, Ukrainian special units started its second stage, which consists in the fact that we took a decision to fully block the city of Sloviansk and not to give possibility for terrorists to get reinforcements,” Pashynsky said, according to the state-run National Radio Company of Ukraine.
This goal was echoed by National Guard Commander Stepan Poltorak, who is now in the Donetsk region, according to Kyiv Post.
The government is only blockading the city because “the terrorists placed their strongholds at kindergartens and hospitals,” according to Pashynsky.
“This is a proven fact and this says that there is no policy in the city of Sloviansk, this is classical terrorism,” Pashynsky said.
He said that the Ukrainian authorities are ready to negotiate with politicians and activists in Sloviansk, despite the current operation.
Russian state news agency ITAR-TASS reports via Russia’s Rossiya 24 that there are helicopters flying over Sloviansk and dropping leaflets calling on residents to stop supporting the pro-Russian forces.
Russia has distanced itself from the seizure of the bus carrying international observers, according to the BBC.
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