UKRAINE ARMY PUSHES INTO REBEL STRONGHOLD OF LUHANSK

The Telegraph, London, on August 17, 2014, reported that government says state flag raised over police station in separatist-held city,… Excerpts below:

The Ukrainian army pushed into a key city controlled by Russia-backed separatists on August 17, the government said, as the two countries’ foreign ministers met in Berlin for crisis talks.

Andriy Lysenko, a Ukrainian military spokesman, said government forces had advanced into the Zhovtneviy neighbourhood in the northeast of the besieged city of Luhansk and taken control of the neighbourhood police station.

“They raised the state flag over it,” he told a news briefing.

Luhansk, with a peacetime population of 420,000, is the second largest stronghold being defended by the rebels in eastern Ukraine, whose main bastion is the city of Donetsk, 90 miles to the west.

Seizing Luhansk would be a major victory for Kiev, disrupting alleged supply lines from Russia. A picture posted on Twitter appeared to show the Ukrainian flag being fixed on the side of the police station, but it could not be independently verified.

Diplomacy around the Ukraine crisis intensified at the end of last week after reporters from the Telegraph and the Guardian spotted a column of military vehicles crossing from Russia into Ukraine at a rebel-controlled section of the border.

Moscow denied the crossing had taken place but Nato said there had been an “incursion” and Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, claimed part of a Russian column was subsequently destroyed by artillery on Ukrainian soil.

Mr Lysenko added more pressure on Sunday, claiming that “a convoy of military equipment, including three Grad rocket launchers, have crossed into the territory of Ukraine” and continued on to Nizhniy Nagolchyk, a rebel-controlled village in southern Luhansk region.

The rebels shot down a Ukrainian Mig-29 near Luhansk on August 17, Ukraine’s military said. Ukraine has lost more than 20 aircraft during the conflict, including a transporter plane that was shot down in June, killing all 49 servicemen on board. The Mig-29 pilot ejected and was recovered.

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