Rebels overtake bases in Ukraine
LUHANSK, Ukraine — Pro-Russian rebels dislodged government troops from three bases in eastern Ukraine, a new blow to the beleaguered armed forces as the president-elect promised new initiatives on Wednesday to help end the mutiny in the country's industrial heartland.
Petro Poroshenko, speaking in Warsaw after meeting with President Obama and other Western leaders, rejected a call from Ukraine's interim authorities to introduce martial law in the restive east. Poroshenko said he would seek to pacify the region with an offer of amnesty and a promise of early regional elections.
The move follows nearly two months of fighting in the region, where pro-Russia rebels have seized government buildings, declared two sprawling provinces independent and fought government forces.
Poroshenko's offer, expected to be detailed in his inaugural address on Saturday, occurred as the Ukrainian troops suffered a series of humiliating setbacks.
After hours of fighting in which six militants were killed and three Ukrainian servicemen were wounded, the National Guard forces ran out of ammunition and had to leave their base near the eastern city of Luhansk.
Rebels seized a border guard base on the city's outskirts after a nearly two-day-long siege and forced guards out of another base in the nearby town of Sverdlovsk on the Russian border. The guards there were granted a safe exit and left with their weapons.
A rebel fighter who gave only his first name, Andrei, said they want to create a “humanitarian corridor” that would allow civilians to flee to Russia to escape the fighting.
The setbacks highlighted the ineffectiveness of Ukraine's badly trained and cash-starved armed forces, which have been plagued by bad communication and poor supply lines.
Ukraine's provisional authorities have blamed the recent military failures on pro-Russia former President Viktor Yanukovych, claiming that his corrupt government starved soldiers of resources and training.
The fund shortage is so desperate that the Defense Ministry had to set up a charity account to support the armed forces while volunteers across the country have been buying provisions for the soldiers.
Obama, in Warsaw for a celebration on the 25th anniversary of Poland's first partially free election, praised Poroshenko for reaching out to the east, while offering $5 million in new aid for Ukraine's military — for equipment that could help in the fight against the insurgents.
The White House said the aid would include, for the first time, body armor and night-vision goggles for the use of troops. The United States has provided ready-to-eat meals and money for medical supplies and other non-lethal assistance, including clothing, sleeping bags and generators.
Many Ukrainian units in the east are manned by poorly-trained conscripts, who come from the region and appear reluctant to engage the rebels.
In the skirmishes overnight into Wednesday, Alexei Toporov, a spokesman for the insurgents in Luhansk, said the guards were fleeing, and the insurgents did not try to detain them.
“We released them and let them go home. We impeded nobody,” he said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Iraqi fighter jet drops bomb over Baghdad, kills 12 people
- Bombs at mosque, restaurant in central Nigerian city kill 44
- Greece’s EU role hangs in limbo as voters reject bailout in referendum
- Gene therapy for cystic fibrosis promising, study shows
- NATO’s Response Force to grow as allies of Russia, U.S. rattle sabers
- U.S.-led coalition unleashes wave of airstrikes on Raqqa, Syria
- Pope comes ‘home’ to South America to defend planet and the poor
- Fans cheer as Princess Charlotte christened on British royal estate in Sandringham
- Famine nears in Yemen; deadly blasts continue
- Iran nuclear deal teeters on ‘hard choices,’ Kerry says
- Egypt claims to kill 63 terrorists in North Sinai