Back and forth fighting over the international airport in Donetsk has ended with government forces in control, but morgues across the city overflowing after ugly battles that left scores killed, and reports anticipating the toll will rise to at least 100.
The offensive came one day after the election of President Petro Poroshenko, with troops pouring into the airport, and Poroshenko ruling out negotiations, saying the eastern separatists are “terrorists” and “Somali pirates.”
Several were killed in the fighting, but the biggest number of deaths came, according to locals, when troops attacked vehicles transporting wounded away from the airport. The vehicles were destroyed, hit with heavy weapons. Some claimed the attacks were launched by the military, while others say it was the Right Sector paramilitaries from western Ukraine.
The incident is by far the single deadliest incident since protests erupted in the eastern portion of the nation. Since then, the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces have been declared “People’s Republics,” though the central government has promised to reclaim the area militarily.
Russia has urged Ukraine to stop the offensive and attempt negotiation, and had previously warned they reserve the right to intervene to defend the ethnic Russian civilians in the far east of the country. So far there is no indication Russia is any closer to crossing the border, but the high body count in the airport fight is likely to raise new calls among locals.