Ukraine

Ukraine: Government Reportedly Wins Battle for Sloviansk

The war in eastern Ukraine continues, but it appears that the pro-western government forces today won a significant battle in Sloviansk.

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The war in eastern Ukraine continues, but it appears that the pro-western government forces today won a significant battle in Sloviansk, which has been a major stronghold for the Russian and pro-Russian separatist forces.

Reuters reported the latest on the situation several hours ago:

A Reuters reporter saw a convoy of about 20 military transport vehicles and buses filled with armed rebels driving out of Kramatorsk where they had gone after apparently fleeing Slaviansk 20 km (12 miles) to the north.

About 100-150 Ukrainian troops patrolled the center of Slaviansk and some soldiers were bringing out weapons and ammunition from one of the administration buildings the rebels had been using as a headquarters.

The military reportedly carried out a bombing campaign throughout much of the night.

"Due to the overwhelming numerical superiority of the enemy our men were forced to abandon their positions," acknowledged Alexander Borodai, the self-proclaimed prime minister of the self-described People's Republic of Donetsk. Among the fighters for the "people's republic" are, apparently, Chechen mercenaries among other hired guns.

BBC's David Stern provides some analysis of the situation:

Of the government's victories so far, the retaking of Sloviansk and raising of the Ukrainian flag over city hall is by far the most significant. The city was not just a command center for the insurgency—it was a symbol of the militants' continuing ability to thwart Kiev's attempts to reassert control in the east.

Now, it appears that the insurgents may also be evacuating Kramatorsk, another key city. But the question is whether this is a turning point in the war, or merely a shifting of the battlefield.

The president, who on Tuesday declared the end of a failed ceasefire, has ordered the nation's flag to be flown over the city of over 100,000 residents, which had been under rebel control since mid-April.