Ukrainian troops attacking the protester-held city of Slovyansk suffered another blow today when rebel fighters shot down a military helicopter, killing 12 troops including one of their top generals.
Gen. Volodymyr Kulchitsky was in charge of combat training for the Ukrainian National Guard, and the helicopter was on the outskirts of Slovyansk when it was hit by a missile, which Ukrainian officials claim is “Russian” in origin. Since virtually all the war materiel in the country on both sides is originally from the Soviet Union, this is likely the case.
Early reports put the toll at 14, though the National Guard later revised it down to 12, claiming there was also at least one survivor who was wounded in the incident.
The National Guard claimed to have retaliated against the rebels responsible and “annihilated” them, though there were no immediate reports of any casualties around Slovyansk so this could not be confirmed.
Slovyansk and the neighboring city of Kramatorsk, in the far north of Donetsk Oblast, have been major targets of the military’s invasion of the region, which aims at restoring control of the oblasts to the central government. Rebels have claimed the founding of a “People’s Republic of Donetsk” and another in Luhansk that are operating as more or less independent entities.