Three deaths have been reported as Ukraine launches what seems to be its first major assault against pro-Russian forces who have seized government buildings in the country’s east.
Fighting broke out in the early hours on Friday around a city that has become the focus of the insurgency. Three deaths were reported in early fighting.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said the offensive “effectively destroyed the last hope for the implementation of the Geneva agreements” which were intended to defuse the crisis.
Two Ukrainian helicopters were shot down and two of their crew members killed on Friday morning, both sides said. The Ukrainian Security Service said one of the helicopters was shot down with a surface-to-air missile, which it said undercut Russia’s claims that the city is under control of civilians who took up arms.
The BBC’s Sarah Rainsford joins Here & Now’s Robin Young from Donetsk with the latest.
- Sarah Rainsford, correspondent for the BBC, currently in Donetsk, Ukraine.