Skip to main content

Relative quiet in Donetsk after a week of violence

By Tim Lister, CNN
updated 11:54 AM EDT, Sat May 31, 2014
Ukrainian soldiers sit on an armored vehicle as they take up a position in a sunflower field near Donetsk, Ukraine, on Thursday, July 10. Here's a look at the upheaval that has persisted in eastern Ukraine since the election of President Petro Poroshenko. Ukrainian soldiers sit on an armored vehicle as they take up a position in a sunflower field near Donetsk, Ukraine, on Thursday, July 10. Here's a look at the upheaval that has persisted in eastern Ukraine since the election of President Petro Poroshenko.
HIDE CAPTION
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine under new elected leadership
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
Ukraine after the election
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Pro-Russian separatists building roadblocks, reinforcing others near Donetsk
  • A pro-Russian rally in the city drew about 1,000 people Saturday
  • Eight OCSE monitors and one translator remain missing

(CNN) -- Pro-Russian separatists built roadblocks on the main routes into the flashpoint eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk on Saturday in an effort to prevent Ukrainian troops from entering.

A CNN team saw two new checkpoints manned by members of the Vostok Battalion being established on the eastern outskirts of town. Another roadblock close to the airport, where there were heavy clashes earlier in the week, has been reinforced.

The separatist unrest that has gripped Ukraine in recent weeks has been centered in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The Vostok Battalion is largely made up of Russians who have arrived in Donetsk in the past week. Local pro-Russian separatists say they have joined forces with the Battalion, and some are wearing its insignia.

Ukraine: Multiple monitor groups missing
Militants' plea to Russia goes unanswered
Donetsk Gov.: Must stabilize situation
'I think Ukraine will be destroyed'

One of the separatists, who gave his name as Dimitri Alexevich and who was in charge of a checkpoint on the highway south to Mariupol, said they were coordinating with the Battalion and were confident they could turn back any attempt by the Ukrainian military to advance into the city.

A pro-Russian rally in the center of Donetsk was attended by about 1,000 people Saturday. It featured speeches from two of the main pro-Russian political leaders in the region, Denis Pushilin and Alexander Borodai.

In a CNN interview, Borodai, Prime Minister of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic, said he expected more Russians to come into Ukraine to support the separatists.

He also said there had been an approach from people associated with the President-elect, Petro Poroschenko, and he was waiting to see what they might propose in terms of a negotiated settlement. But he said the goal remained federation with Russia.

While Donetsk was quiet Saturday, a Ukrainian Anti-Terrorist Operation spokesman told the state news agency Ukrinform that paratroopers twice repelled attacks on the airport by pro-Russian separatists around dawn.

CNN cannot confirm that the attacks took place, but local residents quoted on social media spoke of hearing exchanges of fire at the time.

CNN saw Ukrainian military convoys on the main road approaching Donetsk from the west Friday and Saturday. They were small detachments towing anti-aircraft guns; their destination was unknown.

Meanwhile, eight international monitors representing the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and a translator are still missing. They were part of a monitoring mission in the eastern part of the country and have been missing since Monday, deputy spokeswoman Natacha Rajakovic confirmed Saturday.

Four of the monitors are believed to be detained by pro-Russian separatists in the city of Slovyansk. The other four monitors and a translator are part of the organization's Luhansk-based team.

After violence earlier in the week in which several civilians were killed, as well as at least 30 pro-Russian militia members at the airport, many stores in Donetsk have closed, and some have been boarded up. Some families also sent their children to relatives elsewhere in Ukraine after the end of the school year Friday.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:58 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 broke apart in the air after it was hit by a burst of "high-energy objects" from outside, a preliminary report by Dutch aviation investigators said Tuesday.
updated 7:34 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
"There were many scenes that defied logic," writes OSCE spokesman Michael Bociurkiw, who was one of the first international observers to arrive at the site.
updated 12:11 PM EDT, Wed September 3, 2014
On a country road in eastern Ukraine, a scene of bucolic tranquility was suddenly interrupted by the aftermath of carnage.
updated 4:19 PM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
In the city of Donetsk, the devastation wrought by weeks of fighting between pro-Russia rebels and Ukrainian forces is all too apparent.
updated 8:00 PM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
CNN's Diana Magnay reports from the front lines in the Ukrainian conflict.
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
A few miles south of the town of Starobeshevo in eastern Ukraine, a group of men in uniform is slumped under a tree.
updated 9:27 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
It's been building for months. And now, according to some, Russia has launched a "full-scale invasion" of Ukraine.
updated 9:43 AM EDT, Sat August 23, 2014
A shopkeeper's mutilated body, relatives' anguish, homes destroyed ... this is Donetsk.
updated 7:12 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
A 20-minute drive from Kiev takes you to a neighborhood that feels more like Beverly Hills than central Ukraine.
updated 11:44 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Photos illustrate the ongoing crisis in Ukraine as fighting continues to flare in the region.
updated 8:34 AM EDT, Thu August 7, 2014
Western leaders stepped up sanctions, but the Russian President shows no sign of backing down.
updated 12:31 PM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
Future imports, exports between the EU and Russia are now banned -- but existing contracts continue.
updated 11:40 AM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Some contend that larger weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.
updated 4:37 PM EDT, Fri August 1, 2014
Information about Ukraine, the second-largest European country in area after Russia.
Learn more about the victims, ongoing investigation and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
updated 5:25 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
The downing Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 put the pro-Russia rebels operating in Ukraine's eastern region center stage.
ADVERTISEMENT