Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
File - This July 17, 2014, file photo shows people walking amongst burning debris at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine. Ukraine said the passenger plane was shot down as it flew over the country, killing all 298 people on board. A series of unanswered questions about the downing the flight shows the limits of U.S. intelligence-gathering even when it is intensely focused, as it has been in Ukraine since Russia seized Crimea in March. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, File)
Ukraine launches offensive to retake Donetsk from rebels

Russia accuses U.S. of smear campaign after U.S. sees Moscow moving artillery across border.

First Published Jul 26 2014 11:49 am • Last Updated Jul 26 2014 09:06 pm

Donetsk, Ukraine • Ukrainian officials said their forces advanced to the outskirts of a key town north of Donetsk on Saturday as they try to retake the stronghold held for months by pro-Russia rebels.

The move comes as Ukrainian forces appear to have gained some momentum recently by retaking control of territory from the rebels. But Russia also appears to becoming more involved in the fighting, with the U.S. and Ukraine accusing Moscow of moving heavy artillery across the border to the rebels.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Ukrainian national security spokesman Andriy Lysenko said Ukrainian forces were outside Horlikva, just north of the regional center of Donetsk.

Once they can take Horlivka, "the direct route is open for the forces of the anti-terrorist operation to the capital of the Donbass region — the city of Donetsk," Lysenko said. "The approaches to Donetsk are being blocked so that the terrorists do not get the chance to receive ammunition, reinforcements or equipment."

Donetsk, a city of about 1 million people, is a major center of the separatist uprising that has battled Ukrainian government forces for five months.

An Associated Press reporter found the highway north of Donetsk blocked by rebels and heard the sound of artillery to the north. Explosions were heard in the direction of the town’s airport, on the northwest edge of the city, an area frequently contested by Ukrainian forces and rebels. Black smoke rose from the direction of Yakovlikva, a northern suburb of Donetsk.

About 35 miles (60 kilometers) to the east, the site where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down was still eerily empty except for the parents of one of the 298 people killed in the July 17 disaster. A full-fledged investigation still hasn’t started because of the security risks posed by the nearby fighting.

But Jerzy Dyczynski and Angela Rudhart-Dyczynski, parents of 25-year-old Fatima, travelled from their home in Perth, Australia to honor their daughter. They crossed territory held by pro-Russian rebels to reach the wreckage-strewn fields outside the village of Hrabove, where they sat together on part of the debris, his arm around her shoulder.

Fatima "was for peace. She will be forever for peace," her father said.

U.S. and Ukrainian officials say the plane was shot down by a missile from rebel territory, most likely by mistake.


story continues below
story continues below

Two military cargo planes, one Dutch and the other Australian, also flew 38 more coffins carrying victims to the Netherlands for identification and investigation.

Later, the Dutch government said the first formal identification of a victim had taken place. The name and sex of the victim, a Dutch national, were not released.

The planes took off Saturday from Kharkiv, a government-controlled city where the bodies have been brought from the wreckage site in territory held by pro-Russian separatists fighting the Ukrainian government. They landed later in the afternoon in Eindhoven, where the coffins were transferred to a fleet of hearses in a solemn ceremony.

Officials said the flights took the last of the 227 coffins containing victims that had been brought to Kharkiv by refrigerated train. Officials say the exact number of people held in the coffins is still to be determined by forensic experts in the Netherlands, where Ukraine agreed to send the bodies. International observers have said there are still remains at the wreckage site. Access has been limited due to rebel interference and security concerns.

The disaster sparked hopes in the West that Russia would scale back its involvement in the uprising in Ukraine’s east, but nine days later the opposite seems to be the case.

Russia launched artillery attacks from its soil into Ukraine on Friday, while the United States said it has seen powerful rocket systems moving closer to the Ukraine border.

Those accusations sparked a strong denial from Moscow, which accuses the U.S. of a smear campaign.

The Russian Foreign Ministry accused the United States on Saturday of conducting "an unrelenting campaign of slander against Russia, ever more relying on open lies."

The ministry took particular issue with comments Friday by White House spokesman Josh Earnest, who said Washington regards Moscow as involved in the shooting down of the airliner because it allegedly has supplied missile systems to the rebels and trained them on how to use them.

The ministry complained that these allegations have not been backed up with public evidence and it sneered at Earnest for saying they are supported by claims on social media.

"In other words, the Washington regime is basing its contentions on anti-Russian speculation gathered from the Internet that does not correspond to reality," it said.

Next Page >


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.