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‘Many dead’ in Ukraine offensive in Sloviansk – Turchynov

Many pro-Russia rebels have been killed, injured and arrested in the Ukrainian government offensive in the eastern city of Sloviansk, acting President Oleksandr Turchynov has said.

In a statement, he said the operation in the rebel-held city was not going as quickly as hoped.

Separatists shot down two Ukrainian army helicopters, killing a pilot and a serviceman. Seven have been injured.

The UN Security Council met in emergency session at Russia’s request.

Moscow’s ambassador warned of “catastrophic consequences” if Kiev’s military operation in eastern Ukraine continued, while the US called it “proportionate and reasonable”.

Moscow came in for an onslaught of criticism from other nations which claimed it had sponsored the rebels and armed them with weapons capable of bringing down two Ukrainian helicopters, says the BBC’s Nick Bryant in New York.

At the scene

I am standing at a bridge where there is a stand-off going on between the Ukrainian armed forces and a large group of pro-Russian locals.

I can see about 300 people waving Russian flags, singing and chanting – as if they are daring the military to go closer.

A heavy downpour of rain and a lightning storm have pushed people back a little bit. But it is a very tense situation here.

At the moment the troops are standing around in the field and the protesters are keeping to their part of the bridge. It is difficult tell in which direction this will go. The atmosphere in a place like this can change very quickly.

In his statement earlier, acting President Turchynov said the fight against rebel forces was “greatly complicated” by the fact that the conflict in eastern Ukraine was taking place in population centres.

He accused pro-Russian forces of hiding behind civilians and hostages.

All pro-Russian checkpoints around the city had been captured, Mr Turchynov added, though separatists have spoken of several still being under their control.

The self-proclaimed pro-Russia mayor of Sloviansk, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, described the city has being “densely encircled”.

“The shooting continues, then goes quiet, shots are heard on the streets, helicopters fly over the town now and again,” he told Russia’s Interfax news agency.


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