“The Ukrainian military is in control of Slavyansk,” Channel One reported citing the headquarters of the Donetsk People's Republic. “Early in the morning, the self-defense fighters were forced to leave the city.”
According to Channel One’s information “there was massive shelling” and then armored vehicles entered Slavyansk and street fighting began. That’s when the self-defense forces took the decision to leave the city, the channel said.
“Despite the massive shooting, the fighters stormed out of the city and headed for neighboring Kramatorsk. Part of their hardware was shot down in the process,” the channel said.
Rossiya 24 channel also reported that self-defense forces had quit Slavyansk, and moved their HQ to Kramatorsk.
After the militia were forced to leave their positions in the northern part of the front, they moved to reserve positions that had been prepared in advance, Itar-Tass news agency reported, citing Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Aleksandr Boroday, as saying.
“Our troops have consolidated at the reserve lines of defense, in an organized way and having kept their weaponry. We were prepared for this option, as we have to face tens of thousands of Kiev's military men and hundreds of armored weaponry units – which means almost all the battle-ready Ukrainian army,” Boroday said.
"Taking into account the ‘scorched earth’ tactics employed by Kiev's punitive forces, and the strategy of genocide toward the Donbass population, we declare that every hour of military action claims civilians’ lives,” Boroday said.
In connection with this, he appealed to the international community, calling on them to “influence the Ukrainian authorities and stop the killings of civilians.”
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has ordered the military to raise the Ukrainian flag over Slavyansk, his press service said.
“The head of General Headquarters Viktor Muzhenko has reported to Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, about the fact that overnight, while the self-defense groups were trying to escape Slavyansk they came under mortar fire from the Ukrainian military. As a result, one armored vehicle, two infantry fighting vehicles and two airborne combat vehicles belonging to the [self-defense] fighters have been shot down,” the press service also said.
It has been reported that the intelligence forces of the National Guard and the armed forces of Ukraine are currently operating in Slavyansk.
The Donetsk authorities don’t have any confirmation that the self-defense forces from Slavyansk are moving toward the regional capital, Donetsk Mayor Aleksandr Lukyanchenko’s website said.
“Rumors emerged that the self-defense forces from Slavyansk and Kramatorsk are moving toward Donetsk. However, there is no official confirmation of this,” the message said.
Earlier, one of the leaders of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Pavel Gubarev, said the Slavyansk militia will probably relocate to Donetsk and the surrounding area.
In the neighboring Lugansk region “the self-defense forces are currently at their positions, repelling military attacks and at the same time trying to help civilians who are caught in the fighting," Channel One reported.
The Russian Foreign Ministry announced Saturday that Moscow is halting the process of delivering weapons, Ukrainian military forces' equipment and funds from the territory of Crimea to Kiev authorities due to their military actions in the east, which have resulted in the “deaths of civilians, including children, and civilian infrastructure in Donetsk and Lugansk regions being destroyed.”
“The decision will be valid until a full ceasefire in the east of Ukraine by the country’s military and until a peaceful solution is reached,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said.
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