Skip to main content

Ukrainian authorities: Separatists cleared from 2 eastern cities

By Victoria Butenko and Nick Paton Walsh, CNN
updated 6:39 AM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Security forces cleared Slovyansk of militants, President's office says
  • Prime Minister's office: Eastern city of Kramatorsk is cleared of separatists
  • It's unclear to what extent the Ukrainian army has control of the towns
  • Reports come days after Ukraine began military operations in the east

Kiev, Ukraine (CNN) -- Ukrainian security forces cleared pro-Russian separatists out of two eastern cities Saturday -- significant developments, though hardly conclusive, in the effort to bring unity and stability to the European nation.

The Ukrainian flag was raised Saturday over Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, a pair of flashpoint cities that have been strongholds of groups advocating independence from the Kiev-based national government for months.

President Petro Poroshenko's officed announced Saturday that separatists had left Slovyansk.

Clearing this key city was very difficult, since militants hid inside residential buildings and other facilities where civilians are, according to Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine's National Defense and Security Council.

Strikes resume as Ukraine cease-fire ends
A new era for Ukraine
Poroshenko: Ready for peace deal

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said most of the militants had left.

"They are running. This morning intelligence suggests that (separatist militant leader Igor) Girkin and a significant number of fighters have fled Slovyansk. ... Some remain. Rest going to Gorlovka," he wrote.

Pavel Gubarev, a leader of the militants, confirmed that Igor Girkin has fled Slovyansk with many other leaders toward the main city of Donetsk. The separatists vowed to continue their fight.

Later Saturday, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's office announced that the eastern city of Kramatorsk was also free of separatists.

Videos posted to social media showed the Ukrainian flag being raised about Kramatorsk.

These reports come days after Ukrainian forces began military operations in the east of the country, marking a definite end to a unilateral cease-fire in place for 10 days.

The speaker of Ukraine's Parliament, Oleksandr Turchynov, told lawmakers the government's "anti-terror operation" against pro-Russia separatists had been "renewed."

Ukrainian armed forces have been attacking "terrorists' bases," authorities said.

Poroshenko had said his country would not renew a cease-fire with the separatists, vowing instead to "attack and liberate our land."

Russia and Ukraine have been at odds since late last year, when former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign a cooperation agreement with the European Union, setting off nationwide protests.

The deadly protests led to Yanukovych's ouster, the loss of Crimea to Russia and a pro-Russia separatist rebellion.

READ: Ukraine begins military offensive as cease-fire ends

READ: Ukrainian President lets cease-fire expire, vows to 'liberate our land'

READ: Putin wishes Obama happy July Fourth, calls for closer ties

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:17 AM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Donetsk's neediest line up for food handouts. There are long queues at the bus station as people try to leave town. There are no banks left open.
updated 5:25 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
Barking overwhelms the thud of artillery fire. An animal shelter is crammed with 1,000 dogs, many orphans of the conflict with owners who have fled or been killed.
updated 3:51 AM EDT, Fri October 3, 2014
Reza Sayah looks into why thousands of Ukrainians have left their old lives to volunteer to fight.
updated 4:48 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
CNN's Ralitsa Vassileva speaks to The New Republic's Linda Kinstler about Putin's motives with Ukraine and China.
updated 10:36 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
President Barack Obama speaks at the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
updated 5:58 PM EST, Thu November 13, 2014
The Commander of NATO forces in Europe says Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian troops -- all heading into Ukraine.
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 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 9:43 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 9:12 AM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Photos illustrate the ongoing crisis in Ukraine as fighting continues to flare in the region.
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 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