Ukrainian troops recaptured almost all the territory of Donetsk airport in eastern Ukraine they had lost to separatists in recent weeks, even as thousands gathered in Kiev for a state-sponsored peace march on Sunday.
The offensive brought fighting close to the industrial city of Donetsk itself, center of a pro-Russian rebellion, while shelling intensified in other parts of the region, known as the “Donbass”.
With attempts to restart peace talks stalled, pro-Russian rebels have stepped up attacks in the past week and casualties have mounted, including 13 civilians killed in an attack on a passenger bus, which Kiev blamed on the separatists.
Military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said the army’s operation had returned the battle lines near the airport to the previous status quo and, thus not violated the 12-point peace plan agreed with Russia and separatist leaders last September in Minsk.
“We succeeded in almost completely cleansing the territory of the airport, which belongs to the territory of Ukrainian forces as marked by military separation lines,” he told a televised briefing.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (Chocolate King‘ ),addressed a crowd of several thousand gathered in Kiev for a peace march in memory of those killed on the passenger bus.