Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Volunteers take an oath of allegiance to Ukraine, before being sent to the eastern part of Ukraine to join the ranks of special battalion "Azov" in Kiev, Ukraine Wednesday, July 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
Urban warfare feared in Ukraine fighting
First Published Jul 16 2014 04:09 pm • Last Updated Jul 16 2014 04:09 pm

Kiev, Ukraine • Insurgents bade tearful farewells Wednesday as they loaded their families onto Russia-bound buses and began hunkering down for what could be the next phase in Ukraine’s conflict: bloody urban warfare.

While the pro-Russian rebels in the east have lost much ground in recent weeks and were driven from their stronghold of Slovyansk, many have regrouped in Donetsk, an industrial city that had a population of 1 million before tens of thousands of civilians started fleeing for fear of a government siege.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The rebels also hold the city of Luhansk, where they are said to be taking up positions in residential and industrial zones while lobbing artillery at government troops.

Despite the government’s desire to minimize civilian casualties, Ukraine’s forces could find themselves dragged into grueling warfare inside the cities in their battle to hold the country together.

"To respond to this phase ... we evidently must change tactics," said Valeriy Chaly, deputy head of the presidential administration. He refrained from specifying how.

Insurgents in Donetsk appeared be bracing for a bitter fight as they shipped their relatives out of the city.

One fighter, who declined to give his name, told The Associated Press that not having his wife and young daughter with him would free him to concentrate on the battles ahead.

"It is easier for us this way. It is easier to fight. Your soul is not ripped into two, because when they’re here, you think about war and about your family — if they are OK or not," he said. "When you know that they are safe, it is easier to go to fight."

Meanwhile, the U.S. and the 28-nation European Union separately announced tougher new sanctions against Russia, which is accused of fomenting the unrest by supplying the separatists with fighters and heavy weapons — an allegation Moscow denies.

The U.S. slapped restrictions on Russian weapons manufacturers, energy companies and banks, while the EU moved to stop new European financing agreements with Moscow.


story continues below
story continues below

At the same time, the Pentagon warned that Russia is building up its forces along the Ukraine border again, with 12,000 troops massed there, reflecting a steady increase in recent weeks.

If Ukrainian forces take the fight into the heart of rebel-held cities, it will be a type of combat for which they are not believed to be adequately prepared.

"It’s a very complicated strategic task — not only when it comes to tactics, also in terms of equipment. When rebels are putting missile launchers on school rooftops, what do you do?" said Orysia Lutsevych, a research fellow at Chatham House in London.

Matthew Clements, an analyst with security affairs consultancy HIS, said Ukraine may, instead of entering Donetsk and Luhansk, surround the cities, "cut the separatists off from supplies of fighters and equipment, and undertake gradual operations against the cities and suburbs in an effort to wear the separatists down."

Disrupting supply lines is a particular priority for Kiev as the rebels have lately come into possession of advanced weapons, including tanks and multiple rocket launchers.

A hail of rockets that Ukrainian officials said came from a Russian-made launcher killed at least 19 government servicemen last week.

———

Associated Press writers Julie Pace and Matthew Lee in Washington; Mstyslav Chernov in Donetsk, Ukraine; and Matthew Knight in London contributed to this report.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.